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A Phage-o-Lantern for a Microbial Hallowe'en?

I would like to see a Twitter hash tag for microbiologically themed Jack-o-Lanterns for Hallowe'en! In my Microbiology course here at the University of Puget Sound, my student Ruth created this bacteriophage inspired pumpkin art. #HappyMicrobialHalloween, everyone!

Happy #MicrobialHalloween From My #Bio350 Students (Plus Some Happy #ParasiticHalloween Wishes)!

I enjoy mixing Hallowe'en with my classes. In this blog post, I show how my microbiology students do exactly that, with humor and style. In addition, my freshman writing students do the same with their course on symbioses and parasitism. Enjoy...and #HappyMicrobialHalloween!

Animals (and Plants) in a Microbial World

In this blog post (and fourth "Mu-Tube" video), I explore the idea that all animals and plants have evolved as part of a microbial world, and thus microbes are a part of us. I do this by having my undergraduate students explore two recently publications by Dr. Margaret McFall-Ngai,and ...

Colonial Variation in Serratia marcescens

A common denizen of the undergraduate microbiology laboratory, Serratia marcescens is well known for the production of a bright red pigment, prodigiosin. Prodigiosin has been investigated over many years for its possible antimicrobial, antifungal, and even antitumor effects. Still, the relevance of the pigment in the life history ...

The #LuxArt2015 Art Competition By My Students!

Because of all the recent interest in "microbiological art," I decided to challenge my Biology 350 students to "paint" using luminous bacteria. We have a balloting process, tallied the results, and made some appropriate awards! I think the world of my students, and I hope you enjoy this ...

How I Became a Microbial Supremacist...

In this third installment of my "Mu-Tube" video series about microbiology and microbiology education, I discuss how I was initially labeled a "microbial supremacist" as a joke, and then embraced the title with enthusiasm. I also show many examples of the microbiology-related art I use to encourage my microbiology ...

What Should First Year Students Learn About Microbiology?

Many institutions, such as my own, only have one microbiology course. In this second "Mu-Tube" video, I ask my current junior and senior Microbiology students what *they* think first year students ought to know about #MattersMicrobial. I think their opinions are interesting, and will inform my own teaching ...

My First #LuxArt Class Competition!

In this blog post, I discuss making student designed artwork using bioluminescent bacteria as "paint." As student "buy in" is critical for any course, such fun "creative" approaches act synergistically to improve learning and outcomes. Feel free to vote on your top six images---the students are excited!

My first "Mu-Tube" video promoting microbial literacy: What does "microbiology" mean to students?

For my Microbiology course at the University of Puget Sound, I decided to ask my new crop of "micronauts" what the word "microbiology" meant to them on the first day of class. Here are their answers. My wife Jennifer Quinn and I put this together using art from ...

Portraits of Microbiologists Using Luminous Bacteria as "Paint."

My wife Jennifer Quinn​ hits it out the park: a portrait of Kenneth Nealson​ and the late Woody Hastings "painted" with luminous bacteria, giving them props for the early days of quorum sensing---where the basic principles were first uncovered in bioluminescent microbes. This principle of "autoinduction" created the ...

Portraits of Microbiologists Using Luminous Bacteria as "Paint."

My wife Jennifer Quinn​ hits it out the park: a portrait of Kenneth Nealson​ and the late Woody Hastings "painted" with luminous bacteria, giving them props for the early days of quorum sensing---where the basic principles were first uncovered in bioluminescent microbes. This principle of "autoinduction" created the ...

"Never Really Alone" with Rob Dunn

As part of my freshman writing seminar in the Fall of 2014, I was fortunate to have a number of fascinating experts in symbioses and parasitism be willing to "televisit" my students. Here is Dr. Rob Dunn of North Carolina State University, discussing his laboratory's work with Demodex face ...

"Never Really Alone" with Seth Bordenstein (Including Current News!)

This blog post describes a "video meeting" between Seth Bordenstein and my freshman writing class in the Fall of 2014. My freshman class revolved around ideas in symbioses and parasitism, so Seth's ideas regarding holobionts and the hologenome were particularly apt. Furthermore, last week Seth published an important ...

"Never Really Alone" with Margaret McFall-Ngai

Last Fall, the great Dr. Margaret McFall-Ngai "virtually visited" my freshman writing class at the University of Puget Sound to discuss symbiosis and Microbial Supremacy with my new students. I had my students read some papers by Dr. McFall-Ngai (including the wonderful "Animals in a Microbial World" PNAS article), ...

This is how I commit to Microbial Supremacy!

It's true that I adore microbiology, and I am lucky to teach it each year to my micronauts. So it was time to commit. Here is my second "Microbial Supremacy" tattoo! The artwork is by Peggy Muddles (http://www.redbubble.com/people/thevexedmuddler/works/15659350-microbial-badass-tattoo-full-colour?p=iphone-case), and the tattoo artist is Jayme Jacks of Tsunami ...

Honoring the Memory of Another

The late Edward Leadbetter had a huge impact on my life as an academic, and a microbiologist. In this post, I try to give some appreciation to what he meant to me.

"Never Really Alone" with Ed Yong!

Each Fall, I teach a freshman writing class about symbioses and parasitism. I was very lucky to get some pretty famous people to "Skype" or "Google Hang Out" in to visit my class. Last Fall, one of my "tele-speakers" was the fabulous science writer and very funny fellow ...

Francis Crick Portrait in Living Light!

This is as portrait of the late Francis Crick created by my wife Dr. Jennifer Quinn using "paint" of luminous bacteria. Photobacterium leignothi was grown in LB amended to 20g/l NaCl for a few hours until visible luminescence was detected visually. The liquid culture was painted onto amended ...

Freshman Symbiosis Course and Jack Gilbert!

As my Fall semester approaches, I am reflecting on last Fall. I taught a freshman seminar course revolving around symbioses and parasitism, and was fortunate to have many well known scientists be willing to "virtually visit" my class! Here is my report from last year on the great ...

Learning Metagenomic Analysis at EDAMAME2015

I spent a week and a half learning metagenomic analysis in Michigan from some awfully smart and pleasant people. Learn more at the link!

Freshman Biology Creative Projects

I am a big believer that different pedagogical approaches can "reach" different students. In most of my classes, I give students an optional assignment: come up with a creative project that explores some aspect of class. This takes several steps. First, I make the students come up ...

Happy Microbial Valentines Day---In Words of Living Light!

In this short blog post, I "write" on Petri dishes with bioluminescent bacteria to create words and poems in "living light." I also write a haiku to quorum sensing in the same style!

Inspiration for 2015 via the Late, Great Randy Pausch!

The late computer scientist Randy Pausch wrote many inspirational things about life and academia during his struggle with pancreatic cancer. As we approach 2015, his words are helpful to me, and perhaps to others. About life, about academia, about helping others...and making our dreams come true. Happy ...

Merry Luxmas and Happy Microbial Holidays to All!

Here is my annual blogpost using #MicrobialSupremacy to wish all readers a very, very happy holiday season. I do this GFP and prodiosin, as well as luciferase! Enjoy a tiny bit of microbial art, relevant to the season?

My First Radio Interview About Teaching, Research, and Microbial Supremacy...

The great folks at "The People Behind the Science" interviewed me over Skype in late July, and the interview has just been released as a podcast. I discuss my path through science, my thoughts on teaching, research at undergraduate institution, and how to motivate and inspire students to strive, ...

Catching Up, Part I: Meeting with Former Research Students at ASM in Boston in May.

In this post, I meet up with six of my former undergraduate students at the General Meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in Boston last May. We had a great dinner where we could catch up on challenges and cheer each other on. I am very proud ...

Summer Research, Undergraduate Students, Lab Themed Desserts, and Bdellovibrio!

In this blog post, I discuss our Summer Research Program's "Lab Themed Dessert" competion, for which one of my students created a cake "sculpture" of Bdellovibrio attacking and invading E. coli. It was tasty, informative, and fun! My student clearly thought about Bdellovibrio a LOT during the creation ...

Getting a Knit Bacteriophage From a Former Student!

A former student dropped by my lab this morning, and brought me a gift: a knit bacteriophage! Many times, as educators, we hear what we haven't done well, or could do better. Sometimes, like today, we get a priceless "thank you" from a former student.

Have a Happy Bioluminescent Fourth of July!

In this post from my Microbiology/Education blog, I wish everyone a lovely day of food, fellowship, and fireworks. My laboratory brings you our own "fireworks" through bioluminescence!

Freshman Biology Creative Projects!

I have found that students become involved, energized, and enthusiastic when I give them opportunities to explore topics in my classes using their own creative approaches and interests. So this semester, in my Biology 111 course at the University of Puget Sound, I found that students explored freshman biology ...

Where Biology and Art Work Together in the Classroom

In this blog entry, I describe how working with the artist Katie McKissick ("Beatrice the Biologist") helped improve my freshman biology course. The intersection of biology and art benefits both!

Happy Birthday to a Microbial Hero™---Moselio Schaechter!

Until we have "action figures" of scientists, I do what I can to recognize scientists that have had a large and lasting influence on my academic career. In this blog post, I praise Dr. Moselio Schaechter for his clear and insightful approaches to microbiology. His enthusiasm, breadth of interest, ...

Remembering Carl Woese: A Memorial Issue of RNA Biology

The journal "RNA Biology" just published a memorial issue dedicated to the late, great Carl Woese. The entire issue is open access. I have a small contribution, but the entire issue is filled with great science, wonderful memories, and a fine celebration of a scientist who changed the ...

Teaching Freshmen about Transformation, Drug Resistance, and Gene Regulation!

In this blog post, I describe how I use the commonly available pGLO plasmid to teach freshman students basic concepts about transformation, receptor recognition, drug resistance mechanisms, and gene regulation. Oh, and fluorescence via GFP!

Microbiology and Peep Science at Easter?

Easter in the United States has become a holiday pretty much about high fructose corn syrup. To that end, here is a description of "Peep Science," using those sugary creatures that inhabit this time of year. In addition is a video that links "Peep Science" and microbiology! ...

Former Research Students and Their Success Stories, Part I!

As an educator and researcher at a small liberal arts institution, my success is measured (to me) in watching former students from my classroom and laboratory go on to do great things after graduation. Here, I share some great information about (and by) a former student of mine, Franny ...

Ice Nucleation Bacteria, Twitter, and Me!

In this post from my microbiology/education blog, I discuss a post on Boing Boing recently that used a video I had made of ice nucleation bacteria. Ice nucleation bacteria are very interesting of course, and I link to the Boing Boing post. In addition, I provide an additional ...

On a Cellular Level, We Are ALL Overachievers!

In this blog post, I show a science-cartoon by the great "Beatrice the Biologist" that illustrates an important point in my freshman introductory cell and molecular biology course: no matter how tired we might be, we are incredibly busy on a cellular level! Beatrice is a fine artist who ...

A Bacterial Bioluminescent Valentine's Day

In this short post, I celebrate Valentine's Day with words of light---using bioluminescent bacteria!

Using Wordcloud-Reponses to Discover How Students Perceive Concepts in the Classroom

In this blog, I share some "first word that comes to mind" responses of my freshman biology class to the words "germ," "bacteria," "cell," and "DNA." The way that we perceive an idea or concept definitely impacts our relationship with it. Thus, finding out what students think, coming ...

Creative "Extra Credit" Projects in Microbiology!

In this blog entry, I explore how students can use their creativity to learn microbiology in innovative and often artistic ways. It makes learning more personal!

Merry Microbial Holidays!

Wishing every single microbial enthusiast and their families the merriest of microbial holidays! And how better than with bioluminescent ornaments on a Luxmas Tree!

Remembering a Microbial Hero™: The Late, Great Abigail Salyers.

Here I remember a person who a great deal of influence on my views about microbiology in the classroom, and the laboratory: the late Abigail Salyers. RIP, Abigail.

Some "Rules" for Academia and Research

In this blog post, I describe some "rules for academics" as well as my own "rules for research." I hope that readers find them useful and perhaps a bit humorous.

A Microbial Hallowe'en---2013!

Here is some Hallowe'en themed fun involving microbiology and this October holiday. There are images of bioluminescence, and a microbially themed student costume party. I find that giving students a chance to be creative pays off in many pedagogical ways.

Dispatches from the Teaching Front, Part 1: Student Self-Evaluation

Based on a Twitter conversation with two microbiology educators, I share a story of how (through a survey) I encourage students to look deeply at their study strategies and promote "ownership" in their classroom experience.

Social Media, Course Syllabi, and Blowing Off Steam...

In this post from my blog, I discuss the recent interest in snarky-funny academic hashtags on Twitter, such as #overlyhonestsyllabi. Just like students, educators need to blow off some steam (especially as classes approach!). But it is also important to remember our educational goals, and match rare snark-fests ...

Graduation, Richard Feynman, and Career Choices...

In this blog post, I discuss how students begin to find their "path" to a career that they will love in science. I aIso write about the late, great Richard Feynman.

ASMCUE, Citizen Science, and a Surprise!

In this blog entry, I discuss a talk I attended at ASMCUE about "Citizen Science" and how some of my own work appeared in that talk! It is a vital that we scientists explain not just what we do, but why it is so fascinating to us...by involving the ...

Mothers' Day, Marcus Aurelius, and Microbiology.

On this Mothers' Day, I reflect on the role my late mother had on my own decision to become a scientist. We all owe are mothers a great deal, and not just for the mitochondria! So hurray for mothers everywhere!

Freshmen, Extra Credit, and Different Ways of Learning

In this blog post, I show how students in my freshman "introduction to cell and molecular biology" course used "creativity"-based approaches to better understand concepts in the course---as they prepare for their upcoming final exam. I believe that this kind of approach truly helps with student ownership, outcomes, and ...

Marine Microbiology, Twitter Friends, and Shrunken Coffee Cups

In this blog entry, I discuss how marine microbiology is fascinating to students, as well as the topic leading me (via social media) to other marine microbiologists. One of those marine microbiologists made me a "shrunken coffee cup" (shrunken due to being carried below a kilometer of depth on ...

Illustrating Some Simple Microbiological Concepts: Transformation, Antibiotic Resistance, and GFP.

In this blog post, I describe a simple "colony transformation" experiment I have done with my freshman students, illustrating transformation, antibiotic resistance, and GFP. The visual aspects help drive home the points effectivel.

Student Creativity and Student Study Guides

In this blog entry, I discuss the perennial problem for educators: helping students find study strategies that help them reach their educational goals. I have found that student-generated study material is most helpful...and is sometimes quite artistic!

The Beginner's Mind in Learning...

In my newest blog post, I discuss how taking a "beginner's mind" approach leads to creativity, real learning, and enthusiasm. I tie together Suzuki's "Beginner's Mind" concept with Elio Schaechter's "Talmudic Questions," and give an example from one of my first seminars.

A Hiatus, but Back to Blogging: Living in Academia and Some "Rules for Research."

Here is a short post about life in academia (with some rules) and some "rules" I have developed in teaching undergraduate students about Life in the Lab!

Teaching Students to See Through "Microbial Eyes."

A piece that I wrote for Elio Schaechter's "Small Things Considered" appeared today. I tried to show what my students last semester "got" out of the course, and the challenges of a "one microbiology course" curriculum. My answer: more micro, earlier, in other classes!

Dr. Francis Su's View on "Grace" in Teaching---A MUST Read!

Dr, Francis Su is a mathematician at Harvey Mudd College in Southern California. Last week, he was honored with the prestigious Haimo Teaching Award of the Mathematics Association of America at the Join Math Meetings in San Diego. His acceptance speech is inspiring to any educator and any ...

A Football Game Promo and Microbial Literacy?

A former microbiology student sent me this link to a promotional spot from a football game. There is a microbiological blooper involved, suggesting that we all need to work harder to promote Microbial Literacy...even on the football field!

Missing Carl Woese---RIP!

I comment a bit, as an educator, about the loss of Carl Woese. Not only the importance of his discoveries, but how he went about his work, remains of great value.

Happy Microbial Holidays to All!

A quick demonstration of how my Microbial Mania can impact the holiday season!

Student Centered Learning, Part I: Nanobiographies

Students learn in many different ways than simply taking tests. In my Microbiology course, I have students write a length term paper (a "Microbiography"). As part of this process, students create one page "summaries" of their microbial topic, which I call "Nanobiographies." In this blog post, you ...

Microbiology, Art, and Pedagogy

In this blog entry, I discuss some recent work at the intersection of art and microbiology. I go on to show how this intersection can be useful in the classroom.

A Microbial Hallowe'en, Part II

Here I try to bring microbiology into Hallowe'en with costumes in class, and some bioluminescent microbial art of famous microbiologists!

A Microbial Hallowe'en, Part I

My mathematician wife "painted" onto a marine nutrient plate using a bioluminescent bacterium---as you can see, she loves Einstein. And I love microbiology. Hence the intersection!

Humor, the Honeybadger, and Microbiology!

A short post from my microbiological blog describing a bit of humorous "microbial art."

A short-short science fiction story about microbes...

From my microbiology-associated blog, where I discuss teaching and research in microbiology at a small liberal arts institution.

What do Freshmen Know About Microbiology?

We believe that college students need more microbiology, earlier in their first year biology curriculum. Thus, we interviewed first year biology students regarding some basic concepts in microbiology. We see this as a "call to arms": more microbiology, earlier in the curriculum!

A Bioluminescent Microbial Holiday Season!

For a holiday card, my wife and I made a Christmas Tree with bioluminescent ornaments. The video shows how the tree looks in natural light, and then by its own light. The bacterium is Photobacterium leiognathi, isolated by Ned Ruby and Eric Stabb in Hawai'i. This is another ...
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