Science education

Antibiotics are molecules of biological warfare. Produced by bacteria and some fungi, in response to extracellular signals, antibiotics represent a diverse group of compounds that inhibit bacterial growth at different points and different stages of the life cycle. We will get around to antibiotic resistance, but in these few words, I think I already wrote quite a bit. Admittedly, some of these ideas need a bit of chewing, if they are to be properly digested. Already, I can imagine hands raised and questions waiting to be asked.

What are antibiotics made of? ... Read more

A few years ago, I heard an interesting thing from another mother when I picked my oldest daughter up from daycare. The other mother was suffering from a head cold and confessed to me her fear that she had become "antibiotic resistant." I found this statement pretty funny at the time, especially since I was teaching microbiology to college students. Over the years, though, the joke quit being funny. Now I suspect that the worry voiced by the "antibiotic resistant" mother is shared by many people. It should also be noted that my anxious friend is an educated professional and ... Read more
BioMed Central has gone beyond conventional scientific publishing and started including movie supplements to scientific papers. I saw this one in my e-mail box and couldn't resist. After all, if you don't have access to a microscope, equipped with a digital video camera, how are you supposed to see these sorts of things? I took a look at the article from Neural Development, from Zolessi, et. al. comparing the development of retinal ganglion cells in vitro and in vivo. In the movie, linked below, the first cell looks a bit like a child playing "Pin the tail ... Read more
How does biomedical research impact you? Have you (or has someone in your family) benefited from vaccinations, pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, surgery, or transplants? How does biomedical research affect the health of your dog, cat, or other pet? How might biomedical research touch your life in the future?
Do you know any middle school students who are interested in the life sciences? If they can write an essay, they might be able to win a prize. If you know any middle school students or teachers in Washington, Idaho, Montana, or Oregon, let them know about ... Read more
I wrote earlier about videos of lab protocols and the benefit these could bring to people who are trying to learn new techniques or perhaps troubleshoot their own. Unfortunately, I suspect that the people who would benefit the most from movies of others doing lab procedures correctly are those who are already pretty observant. Nevertheless, I have some ideas for improvements to these kinds of movies, ala acting and editing, that could benefit the ... Read more
You've probably heard about enterprising researchers attaching cameras to dolphins, dogs, and other animals, in order to learn how things look from the critter-point of view. Now, some enterprising lab rats have added a new twist to this technique. It's lab cam! From Attila Csordas , we have a report about researchers documenting their work through film in an unusual way. They put on a funky-looking hat with a digital camera attached and film their hands doing ... Read more

These are the real things that give nightmares to post-docs and graduate students.

One thing that you don't learn, until you either do a research project in a lab or you start graduate school, is that science isn't really the straightforward cut and dry process of: we do this step, then we do this step; sort of field that you might imagine. You come to graduate school all bright-eyed and amazed, with the scientific method burned into your brain, only to find out that it's usually the little things that no one told you about that make the difference between productive ... Read more

Reposted from the original Digitalbio. About a decade ago, I took a fascinating summer course at the UW on bioethics. We read about the Nuremburg trials and the Geneva conventions. We learned about horizon problems and eugenics. And we discussed lots of challenging scenarios with genetic testing, autonomy, family relationships, and the problems faced by people seeking to have children, trying to get insurance, or looking for a job. So naturally, when I started a biotechnology course for non-science majors (Biotechnology and Society) at our community college, I used many of those ... Read more
Yikes, I've spilled some DHMO on my hands! What do I do now? Do you know the truth about DHMO? Look at this web site and tell me if you still want to go swimming. Read more
In last week's episode, your assignment was to think of an interesting plant trait and find a description about a gene, related to that trait, by searching PubMed. Since coming up with an interesting trait might be a challenge for some people, let's think about how to approach this step. Picking your trait. ... Read more

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