Grand Rounds 4.10

Apologies for the lack of posting; been a busy fall here. I’ll have a real post up later today; in the meantime, I’ll note that the latest edition of Grand Rounds is up over at Prudence, M.D.

What do you get when you mix….

… (L-R) Scienceblogs’ own rabblerouser, PZ Myers; Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy; myself; and birthday boy Evil Monkey, along with a host of other science bloggers and readers (including some self-identified in the comments in PZ’s and Phil’s posts)? A nerdalicious Saturday evening in DC, that’s what. We arrived a bit late and so missed some of the festivities, but I did get to chat with both PZ and Phil a bit, and hear some stories about Phil’s upcoming book. I did not, however, get the memo on the dress code, and sadly left my blue button-up-over-a-T-shirt-sporting-a-button combo back here in Iowa. D’oh!

So, I’m once again playing catch-up, and my “real” work and family come first, but there will be new material tomorrow. Any comments that were sent to the spam folder have also been published.


Got a grant off earlier today, so I’m unwinding a little bit tonight (before I unleash an exam upon my students tomorrow). In the meantime, I just found out an interview I did about my S. suis research back in August was in last week’s JAMA.

Back with more tomorrow…

Phew, I’m tired

I mentioned August would be a hellish travel month. Beginning August 2nd, I drove to Chicago for YearlyKos, back to Iowa and grabbed the kids and dogs, headed to Ohio to visit family (including an almost-9-months-pregnant sister and her 18-month old son), headed out to Maryland/DC/Delaware for an impromptu road trip, back to Ohio, back to Iowa, to Wisconsin for a science conference, back to Iowa for the evening, then flew back to DC to pick up a friend, and then drove up to New York to meet up with many other Sciencebloggers for the weekend. Then back to DC, and back to Iowa this morning.

Or, I think I’m in Iowa. Everything is starting to look alike at this point.

Anyway, the conference in Wisconsin was great, and had a good amount of interest in the talk I gave there on Streptococcus suis (always a bonus). The weekend in New York was great fun as well. I’d met several other Sciencebloggers before, but never en masse quite like this. Friday they opened up Seed magazine’s office and let us poke around there, then followed up with a reception at Seed founder Adam Bly’s apartment. On Saturday, we were stuffed full of brunch and conversation, and followed that up with a trip to the Natural History museum, after which many of us gathered for dinner. I then headed up to the Washington Heights neighborhood on Sunday to visit yet another friend, before driving back down south to the DC area that afternoon (well, late evening by the time we arrived, thanks to a rainy day and many accidents along the way. None involving me, though).

I don’t have my pictures rounded up yet, but you can see photos others have shared: Bora’s roundup; a few from PZ; Mo’s photos; and a few from Zuska (including one of me blending into a chair…interesting…) I’ll try to get my own up tonight…

Snowin’, blowin’ and movin’

Apologies for the radio silence this week. The weather has been crazy here and power was off over the weekend, during which, unfortunately, I was also trying to move into a new house (moving during an ice storm: not recommended, by the way). Then I got into a fight with some of our downed tree branches and lost…don’t ask. Anyway, I do have a post on tap for later today and hopefully things will be back to some semblance of normal next week.


So, I’m back from AAAS, and starting to catch up on everything. The conference flew by, and I still have a few posts in the wings on the evolution symposium that took place on Friday, as well as some other tidbits from sessions I attended. Overall, I thought the conference was very good from a networking perspective. In addition to those I already mentioned (Janet, John, and Jeremy), I also ran into Chris Mooney and Ewen Callaway at a reception Saturday night, and met up with Eugenie Scott and several other NCSE folks during various sessions (more on that in the aforemetioned upcoming post). However, I found a lot of the sessions I attended to be somewhat repetitive, and I’m not coming home with that “wow, my brain is stuffed with so many ideas I can’t wait to get them all down on paper” feeling that I usually have after conferences. Still, I knew that AAAS wasn’t a research-heavy conference, so I suppose it was a good experience for what it was–discussing science in general.

However, along the lines of the “networking” idea, I was browsing the program Friday night and noticed a networking breakfast that looked interesting, to be held Saturday morning: “women and minorities in science.” Great, right up my alley, I thought.

I read the next line.

“Invitation only.”

So, maybe next year I’ll have done enough networking to snag an invitation to the networking breakfast…

Live from San Francisco

So, I’m here in San Francisco at AAAS, and have had the pleasure of hanging out with Janet (who I met previously), John, and Jeremy (who I’d not). I’ll hopefully have a post up tomorrow on the session I just got out of, discussing evolution education and grassroots activism. It’s been a lot of fun so far (and educational, of course!)

Everything you wanted to know about microbiology and epidemiology, but were afraid to ask

As Chad mentioned, in our super-triple-secret Scienceblogs hidey hole, we’ve been kicking around the idea of writing posts on some basic concepts in our respective fields of expertise. However, after studying this stuff for years and years and years, it’s not always easy for us (well, OK, for me at least) to figure out what “basic concepts” would be interesting and useful to discuss here. I’ve written a bit previously on the difference between “infectious” and “contagious” disease, for example, but I can get much more basic than that. From those of you who commented here (and thank you for doing so!), I know many of you don’t have a background in biology, and maybe you skim over some posts because I lose you with jargon or terminology.

So, is there something that you’d like to have explained? I put micro and epidemiology in the topic because those are usually the two little sub-categories I place myself into, but obviously many of us here are biologists and know more than our narrow specialization, so if there’s some basic biology terminology or concepts that you wish someone would explain, I can do that as well. (Or alternatively, send it to the SB hidey-hole and pass it along to someone who might be more qualified to do so). Fire away!


It’s been quite awhile since I’ve had a real vacation. Most of my “vacations” are spent traveling back and forth to relatives’ and friends’ houses, and this Christmas holiday has been no exception. After a jaunt to Ohio to visit family, I’m currently in the metro D. C. area visiting a friend, and hooked up with fellow Sciencebloggers Janet of “Adventures in Ethics and Science” and Evil Monkey of “Neurotopia” recently at an Irish pub here in the area (photographic evidence can be found here). I’ll be traveling back to Ohio tomorrow for some more family time and to work on a house I still own back in Toledo (anyone interested in a 5-bedroom, 100-year old house in a historic district, cheap?), and then back to Iowa after the new year. And in between all the driving, it’s still a working vacation; this semester has been crazy, and I have a new course next semester as well, so it’ll be equally busy. No rest for the wicked, I suppose…hope the rest of you out there had a good holiday.