Lab Shenanigans

I love Giant Microbes, so when I heard that they were making a Coronavirus, I immediately placed an order. It sat in my home office during Stay at Home orders, but when we got permission to go back to the lab, I decided to make it our lab mascot. What can I say? Scientists can … Continue reading Lab Shenanigans

Sanitizers: fact and myth

With the Coronavirus panic setting in, I've been asked by a friend to write about sanitizers and what is required for an effective one (for Coronavirus) First, keep in mind that Coronavirus is a virus, and it will not be harmed by antibacterials. This means antibacterial soap is no more effective than ordinary soap. Second, … Continue reading Sanitizers: fact and myth

Your Body’s pH is Just Where it Needs to Be

It's been a while. I'm sorry. As it turns out, developing a class from scratch and starting a lab up in good earnest, and mentoring/supervising four students in that lab, and writing grants, and driving around 2x a week collecting samples from chickens...doesn't leave a lot of energy for blog writing. Humans have a blood … Continue reading Your Body’s pH is Just Where it Needs to Be

Pooped On By Chickens, Stung by Bees

(and other fun research adventures) So we're now at the halfway point of summer research (10/21 farms done). No Salmonella yet, but lots and lots of sampling fun... What fun, you ask? I have been pooped on by chickens twice now. Apparently swabbing their cloacas sometimes reminds them they need to poop, which they do--on … Continue reading Pooped On By Chickens, Stung by Bees

Listeria in Ice Cream?

Blue Bell Ice Cream--a cautionary tale Unfortunately, yes, this is a possibility. See, Listeria monocytogenes lives in soil, decaying leaves, animal guts, raw milk, and lakes, ponds, and streams. It's also really good at surviving in cold places (refrigerator temperatures) and forming biofilms to avoid getting scrubbed off or killed by sanitizers (they can't easily … Continue reading Listeria in Ice Cream?

If E. coli is so Dangerous, How is it Ok it Lives in My Gut?

E. coli shows up in the news pretty regularly. Whether it's in hamburgers or lettuce or flour, the little rascal's appearance is generally accompanied by reports of ruined kidneys, hospitalization, and sometimes death. On the other end of the spectrum, we read that we all have E. coli in our guts-that it makes Vitamin B12 … Continue reading If E. coli is so Dangerous, How is it Ok it Lives in My Gut?

Summer Food Safety Research

Summer: a time for lazing in the backyard, having picnics, and doing food safety research Note: I have every intention of keeping up this blog, but the truth is, I'm a little buried right now. I'm working on setting up a food safety minor in my department, on developing new courses, on planning summer research … Continue reading Summer Food Safety Research

Big Data and Food Safety Micro

from: What does big data have to do with food safety? A lot, it turns out. Some food safety researchers mine Yelp or other social media to detect clusters of illnesses (a bunch of people posting negative reviews on a restaurant around the same time referencing illness is a good clue to look closer). … Continue reading Big Data and Food Safety Micro

I Got the Flu Shot, So Why Did I Still Get the Flu?

The short answer is that viruses mutate really, really fast. For living creatures, such as bacteria, and especially for higher animals, the risk of mutating fast is high--the wrong mutation will literally kill them. Consequently, when a bacterium or higher creature's cell replicates, it proofreads the copied DNA to eliminate as many errors as possible. … Continue reading I Got the Flu Shot, So Why Did I Still Get the Flu?

That Funny Creature, the Scientist

"Scientist"¬† invokes a lot of responses: Nerd/Geek Weirdo Really smart Socially¬†awkward I have no idea what they're talking about... Has lots of funding (from my colleagues on the liberal arts side of campus) Thinks they're smarter than everyone else Cannot relate to "normal people" So what is a scientist, really? I offer a few alternative … Continue reading That Funny Creature, the Scientist