Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Microbial Hallowe'en

It's kind of a challenging semester for me here at the University of Puget Sound, I'm afraid.  I am teaching my beloved microbiology (Biology 350), of course, as well as my freshman writing seminar that focuses on symbioses and parasitism (SSI1-165).

So I am busier than...well, a microbe trying to enter exponential phase, or a parasite trying to manipulate its host.

In addition, I have been encouraged to apply for promotion to full professor (I earned tenure at the University of Puget Sound in 2011).  This kind of process really does cause me internal strife, though it makes little sense to those outside of academia.  My late mother was psychologically Amish, and I was raised to believe the very worst thing you could do is "toot your own horn."  Everyone suffers from "imposter syndrome," I know.  But it's not fun. 

So promotion files are upsetting to me.  I'm happy to have my job, and if I end up being the world's oldest associate professor, I suppose that is fine...just so long as I get to teach, do a little research, and spend time with my students.

Anyway, Hallowe'en has long been my favorite holiday, and I surely do insert it into my classes!

I think that using luminous bacteria (Photobacterium leignothi) to "paint" Hallowe'en themed "Petri Art" is a great thing.  My first year research student Emily did a great job, as you can see.


It is also fun to play a bit with with E. coli strains that express green fluorescence protein as you can see here (with mad props to Emily and Sara).



And let's not forget red fluorescence protein!



But Hallowe'en isn't Hallowe'en without a masquerade.  Am I right?

Here is a nice video overview of my #Bio350 micronauts dressing for #MicrobialHalloween!

Not to be outdone, here is my own microbially themed mask (designed by my lovely and brilliant bride Dr. Jennifer J. Quinn).

Here is my Fall 2016 #Bio350 class of micronauts, all dressed for a #MicrobialHallowe'en!

Yes, there usually is a student who "dresses like Doc" for Hallowe'en.  So far, they have been kind about it.

Let's not leave out my SSI1-165 freshman writing seminar students. Several of them dressed for class on Hallowe'en, as you can see here.  I'm told that the images are, in order: a parasitized praying mantis, a bat with a wingless parasitic fly on its head, a parasitic spider, and a parasitized shark.



And the best part?  In my freshman course, we watched a "parasitically relevant" episode of an old "X-Files" episode, titled "Ice."  In it, alien parasites battled one another inside human hosts.  Just like can happen here on Earth!

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Hallowe'en, composed of mischief and mystery in equal measure...with just a dash of microbiology!

Here is something that the composer Reber Clark put together for me based on some VERY interesting phenomena involving luminous bacteria in liquid culture in Petri dishes.  Thanks to Ruth Isenberg for the time-lapse work during the summer.  Very, very Hallowe'en appropriate, don't you think?

Happy Hallowe'en!