Infectious Thoughts

Round 2 of the SciFund Challenge is now live!

Siouxsie Wiles May 01, 2012

I’ll be spending the next 31 days trying to raise money for my research using the crowd funding model on the RocketHub platform, where contributors exchange small donations (in the 10-100 dollar ballpark) in return for ‘rewards’. As a microbiologist who makes glow-in-the-dark bacteria for a living, my rewards are things like sending donors a picture of their name … Read More

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Crowdfunding science: The SciFund Challenge

Siouxsie Wiles Apr 11, 2012

In late 2011, two ecologists from the US National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in California embarked on an exciting experiment: to see if the crowdfunding model [1] successfully used by ‘Creatives’ [2] could be applied to funding science. And enthuse the general public about science in the process. Dr. Jai Ranganathan and Dr. Read More

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Antibiotics and asthma

Siouxsie Wiles Mar 19, 2012

Administering antibiotics in infancy leads to enhanced susceptibility to asthma At least in mice. Brett Finlay and colleagues, at the University of British Columbia, report in the journal EMBO Reports that treating baby mice with the antibiotic vancomycin not only changed the types of bacteria found in the gut, but was also associated with an increased susceptibility to … Read More

Glow sushi!

Siouxsie Wiles Mar 18, 2012

When I first heard of this (and thanks to the lovely Alan Huett for the heads up), I immediately thought it was due to the common bioluminescent bacteria often found on fish and which can show themselves if said fish is left too long before eating. It turns out to be sushi made using genetically modified fluorescent zebrafish … Read More

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Vitamin C: Primal panacea? Yeah, right!

Siouxsie Wiles Mar 07, 2012

Those that know me, know I regularly rant about the bastion of local journalism that is the Ponsonby News, a whopping 150 page A4 magazine which lands free in my letter box every month (except January when they take a well earned rest…), one of almost 17,000 distributed around Auckland’s inner suburbs. The Ponsonby News is essentially an enormous advertising … Read More

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Emotive hysteria trumps opportunity to educate (now there’s a surprise!)

Siouxsie Wiles Mar 05, 2012

University’s death toll – 25,000 animals in two years So screams the front page of the print version of the March 5th edition of the New Zealand Herald (online here). The story was originally written by Matthew Haggart for the Otago Daily Times and concerns the statistics on animal use for research and teaching at the University of … Read More

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Survival of the brightest

Siouxsie Wiles Mar 04, 2012

Regular readers will be well aware of my obsession with bioluminescence, that beautiful light produced by things like fireflies and glow worms. So I was excited to see this paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Margarita Zarubin and colleagues have discovered why so many non-symbiotic marine bacteria are bioluminescent. It turns out that … Read More

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