Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My First Attempt at Promoting Microbial LIteracy Via Video: μ-Tube!

The new semester is here!  Whew!  Lots to juggle with my two classes, but I am having fun swimming upstream so far.

My wife Jennifer Quinn, mathematician, artist, and muse, has been telling me that we should create short videos to promote MicrobialLiteracy™and MicrobialSupremacy™together.  There is sadly quite an energy of reaction necessary to get me doing new things these days, but Jenny prodded me efficiently.  And quite sweetly.  She sees great potential in me, apparently.

I thought a nice place to start would be to ask my new Microbiology students (mostly Juniors and Seniors) to tell me what they thought of when I said the word "microbiology."  I posed the question on the very first day of class, and I recorded their answers on my iPhone.  I then pulled up some great art from former students and friends, and Jenny and yours truly storyboarded. 

Here is our first u-Tube video---"M-TV" if the "M" stands for "micro"?  

I can't wait to learn how my students' opinions change during the semester.  

Let me add one further thing about the video (and thanks to the wonderful science artist Michele Banks for bringing this up with me via e-mail; you should buy her art, by the way).  One of my major worries about microbiology is how the public perceives microbes, often due to sensationalistic "news" stories.  

Many people reflexively and negatively focus on microbes as causing disease or being "gross," and thus always a topic for disgust or revulsion.  Recently, with all the work on the human microbiome, there are some people who tend to view microbes as not simply benign, but almost "magical" in their impact (microbiologist Jonathan Eisen even has a category titled "Overselling the Microbiome Award" on his blog).  I tend to think of both of these categories---angels and devils, in a way--- as not representing the vast, vast majority populations of microbes that are completely indifferent to us.  Plus, I wanted to showcase a student's humorous and skilled artwork (Kyle Kolisch).

Jenny and I have plans to produce one of these short videos every two weeks, on various aspects of MattersMicrobial™.

Thanks to Jenny, Megan Hatasaka, Kyle Kolisch, and Kaitlin Reiss for wonderful artwork and humor.  And to Michele, again, for the comment.

Please stay tuned to u-Tube!


  1. Good to know that the deadlines will be every other week. Let's do this!

    1. Only if you want to do this. It's not as easy as you thought, I know. Folks may or may not be interested.


I am happy to hear your comments and suggestions. I hope to avoid spammage. We shall see how that works out!