David Manly is a freelance journalist who will blog about a wide range of topics that all fall under the umbrella of zoology and ecology. While his expertise lies with reptiles and amphibians, he has a wide array of knowledge and interest in all animal species - from the sponge to the great ape. He hopes you will enjoy his blog, as he plans to make it both entertaining and enjoyable (as well as fill it with interesting facts, tidbits, photos and videos).
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
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Biology was always my “thing.”
Starting from a young age, I was always interested in the natural world, why things happen the way they do, and (of course) animals. For some reason, animals always fascinated me with their endless varieties and their amazing adaptations. I could learn everything possible about a particular species, and yet still want more.
I was obsessed with knowledge.
This fascination with animals didn’t start when I was in university, or even high school. No, I’ve been learning everything I could about animals since I was a little kid.
My parents still tell the story of when they signed me and my twin brother up for pee-wee soccer as children. Apparently, I could not have cared less about the ball, the score or the teams. All I cared about was sitting down on the grass and watching the ants crawling along, going about their daily routine, completely unaware of the giants lurking around them.
So, suffice to say, my parents were not in the least surprised when I showed an aptitude for biology.
But, what if I didn’t go into biology/zoology?
I expected to grapple with this question for this theme post for a while, and went through all the different branches of science that I would consider going into. Ecology was too close to the kind of stuff I’ve done, and the less said about my experiences with both chemistry and physics the better!
And then, it hit me.
If I wasn’t in zoology, I would have liked to have gone into microbiology, the study of microorganisms like bacteria and viruses.
Most microbes are not this cute, cuddly or available to purchase (thanks GiantMicrobes!)
Originally, I never gave any thought to studying it as I was always so focused on animals. I learned about it in school and university, but it was always just another thing to learn to add to my mountain of scientific knowledge. That was, until my last year as an undergraduate, as I was working on my thesis.
I took the only microbiology course offered at my school, and it was taught by Dr. N, a professor who I referenced in my mentors post here a few months ago. I was more excited about having her as a teacher again than I was about the course content.
Boy, was I wrong.
The course was a fascinating mix of biochemistry, ecology, cell biology and even evolution. It is not like I found the content easy to learn, as I didn't. The various pathways and operon’s we studied were very complex and took a lot of time to understand correctly. But, I didn’t mind, as it was an interesting, new and different branch of science to learn.
And then there were the labs.
The labs were a lot of fun. My teaching assistant was great, my lab partner was helpful, and we performed some cool experiments with one of the most amazing microbes, Eschericha coli.
The incredibly adaptable E. coli
Using E. coli, we learned about the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance through actual experimental data, how to select for specific variants of a bacterial strain, how easily bacteria and viruses spread if not careful, and the greatest was making agar plates (regular agar, plates that were missing nutrients, blood agar, etc…).
Looking back at everything I learned in the course and how interested I became in the topic, if it were possible, I would go back and seriously consider doing my thesis and further work in microbiology. But, since time-travel is not yet possible, I will have to settle for learning everything I can about all the helpful and harmful bacteria and viruses now.
After all, that is the beauty of science: There is always something else to learn.
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I collect those cuddly microbes – my bf gave me Gonorrhea for my birthday one year.
Aww thats sweet Dr. G :) My student last semester gave me teh black plague hehe.
Nice post David! Micro is a great field and you never know, you get into it again and then again maybe time travel will happen.
Thanks Dr. G and Alchemystress!
I got mini-MRSA from a friend last year, but I've always wanted the Black Plague (and syphillis) lol
I'm just happy learning about it, and hopefully getting to write stories on them soon! :)
If you're ever in my town, you may come to my lab and we'll do a microbiology experiment. You could even video record it if you want to make a fun video of yourself doing microbiology for the first time.
I love and hate those damned plushies. Do you know how awkward it is to tell someone that your ex gave you syphillis and HIV, and someone else just walks in on that part of the conversation? Not the point where the other person had asked about the plush microbes on your desk.
I really liked my Micro class in undergrad. Even if the professor spent a little too much time on candidia and vaginosis...
well, as undergrads, he was probably trying to scare you all into using protection.
Jade - Really? That would be AMAZING!!!!
We will 100% do that :)
JaySeeDub - As long as you can laugh about the diseases, that's what matters. Just be sure to say innocuous things, like:
"She gave it to me, but she's gone. It, however, is still around."
My ex gave me a plush frog ... because I was working on frogs. She was a regular genius, eh? :)
You know ... my birthday is this summer. If anyone want to know what to get me, look no further than Giant Microbes!!!
Yup. It would be fun. You'd have fun with our marketing dept. They like to shoot videos in the lab too.