Bad Bugs

I was at the International Society of Microbial Ecology’s (ISME) biennial meeting in Montreal a week and a half ago. This is the largest gathering of microbial ecologists in the world; close to 3,000 of us gathered to present data on all kinds of things from the human microbiome, to life at the bottom of […]

Science Meeting

I was at a microbiology conference the other day, it was the wrap-up party after four and a half, fourteen hour days of being immersed in the science this particular group found most fascinating. Sessions started at 9 AM, took a couple of hour break in the afternoon, and then went to 10 PM or […]

Plodding along

When family or friends would ask my Dad how he was doing, one of his typical responses was, “Oh I’m plodding along”. He kind of took pride in being a plodder, whether it was getting another cord of wood cut, or the bottom of a boat painted with red lead paint before launch. The work […]

I am not a politician!

With this title I hear by immunize myself against any criticism while I go on a political rant. After all, how many times has a politician used the line, ‘I am not a scientist’, before going on to say something that would only be imbecilic if it weren’t unbelievably dumb. Everyone has to admit that […]

The Rates the Thing

A rate is a simple enough concept; it measures change. If I’m driving my car, my miles per hour are the rate I am covering ground, if I slow down or speed up that brings in a second rate, the rate at which my speed is increasing or decreasing. As a scientist, I think a […]

Humility

Ego is as much a part of science as it of any other profession, maybe more so. The money can be decent, but it’s not a driving factor in why we play the game; recognition of your work is vitally important, so it’s reasonable to say there are plenty of egos in science. On the […]

We regret to inform you…Part II.

In an earlier part of this blog I was bemoaning the difficulties of getting funded to carry out research. It’s the most common challenge for all scientists. One obvious solution, is for there to be more funding available; however, federal funding for science not related to defense has remained largely flat for nearly a decade […]

‘We regret to inform you’…Part I.

As a scientist who secures most of my funding through federal grants, this is the most common outcome to my efforts in writing research proposals, an email that begins with these words and goes onto explain that the proposal has been declined. This is usually received anywhere from 6 – 12 months, and often longer, […]

What would Darwin think?

February 12th was Charles Darwin’s birthday, the fellow most responsible for developing our ideas around how life evolves was born in 1809. It’s been 156 years since he published, perhaps the most famous book in science, ‘The Origin of Species’. One wonders, however, if natural evolution that Darwin first described is approaching an end. Recently, […]

What is a species?

If you want to steal a microbiologist’s wallet or purse, wait until 4 or 5 of them are sitting around a table together and then pop the question, ‘What is a species?’ The ensuing discussion/argument will quickly become focused, passionate, and all-consuming, no one will be watching their wallet. The question of what is a […]