Let me start this article by saying: don’t worry. I know you’re fearful that creating the next super-virus that will threaten all of humanity is going to be a real challenge, the sort of thing that will make you have to quit your job and go into seclusion for years.
Don’t worry, it’s not that hard. You can probably do it just with your saved PTO.
Making a deadly virus that will lead to a global pandemic is surprisingly easy. You don’t need to start from scratch. There are a lot of great resources out there to help you.
Back in undergrad, when I noticed that my typical daily diet lacked the presence of anything green, I started considering taking a daily multivitamin.
It seemed like an easy way for me to get my needed doses, especially water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, which our bodies can’t store and need to replenish regularly. Additionally, I feared that a lack of vitamins was interfering with my brain’s ability to function. Was I bad at studying because I didn’t have enough vitamins?
(In the end, I decided that it would simply be easier to occasionally buy a vegetable or some fruit.)
I’m starting this article by confessing a secret pleasure of mine: browsing through /r/gifrecipes on Reddit, finding a video of some food that looks absolutely disgusting, and then opening up the comments to read how hundreds of others express their distaste.
Not all GIF recipes — which is to say, a short auto-playing video that shows the creation of some food dish, often with at least a limited attempt at instructing on how to make it — are bad. Some of them are authentic. Some are healthy. Some are creative and appealing. Some even manage to be all three.
Growing up, I think one of my most disturbing “cool science facts” that I parroted around was the idea of fecal spread from flushing toilets.
I’m sure you’ve heard it in some form; when you flush a toilet, all of the… human waste, shall we say… doesn’t just get sucked down the drain to never be seen again. The energetic flush also sends micro-droplets of water into the air — and those droplets also carry tiny little bits of feces.
This phenomenon has been studied and examined, and it’s known as a “toilet plume”. Depending on the model of toilet…
There are a lot of challenges in graduate school: finding a lab, getting along with other students and professors, the transition from learning to leading, and the ever-present stress over whether your experiments will succeed (or at least yield good enough results to get a publication out of it!).
One of the biggest questions, however, doesn’t affect graduate school, but instead matters after you finish. It boils down to a simple three words:
“Academia or industry?”
After you’ve earned a professional degree, usually a PhD, these are widely seen as the two most common career tracks open to you. You…
If you live in the United States, you’ve likely seen a commercial (or many) for some drug or medicine in which the narrator reads off a long list of side effects in a monotone voice near the end of the ad. (If you’re outside the United States, the idea of drug advertisements likely sounds crazy — it’s a thing here!)
These long lists of side effects often inspire comedians and would-be imitators. “Why would I take this drug for headaches, when it may also give me heart attacks, cancer, bad gas, indigestion, diarrhea, and memory problems?”
Side effects can be…
One of the most impactful lessons that I’ve learned, over and over, as a microbiome scientist is that there are bacteria everywhere and in everything.
Very few things are totally sterile.
But what about something like breast milk? Barring any contamination from…
I have a confession to make: even though I found the scientific paper that I wanted to feature for this Medium article, I didn’t write it immediately.
I had the time, and I had the skills — but I didn’t have the mental energy. I decided to push it off until later. In other words, I procrastinated.
Procrastination is a common factor in most of our lives, even though we want to fight against it. We often describe it as habitually and repeatedly putting off something that needs to be done.
There are plenty of articles about the dangers of…
First, I have to give you the bad news: even if you vacuum and/or mop regularly, your floor is going to be covered in bacteria.
I don’t even need to see it to tell you. As a microbiome scientist, if there’s one thing that I learned over the course of earning my Ph.D, it’s that bacteria are everywhere — in our homes, on our pets, on our skin, in our mouths, and at pretty much every stage in our digestive system.
Normally, I write about the microbiome that’s associated most closely with us — our gut microbiome. …
Like more than a hundred million Americans, I watched the Superbowl this past Sunday. I’m a casual (American) football fan, so I wasn’t rooting too strongly for a particular team; I wanted a close game and to see some great commercials.
I walked away from the game feeling a bit let down on both counts. …
PhD in genetics, bioinformatician, scientist at a Silicon Valley startup. Microbiome is the secret of biology that we’ve overlooked.