Monday, November 29, 2010

Lichens in the Media

Recently, National Public Radio (NPR) interviewed James Lendemer of the New York Botanical Garden for a portion of the "Science Friday" program about lichens. The primary product that resulted from this interview was a video that they posted on their website:
My favorite part of the video occurs when they show James hiking through the forest hunting for lichens and there is a voice-over of James saying "I think of myself as a bounty hunter." On the weekly national broadcast they did a five-minute piece in which they briefly discussed lichens and heavily referenced the above video. Online there is a transcript and a link to an mp3 of the broadcast. There are also some lichen photos that viewers/listeners sent in to NPR after hearing the program:

Lepraria hodkinsoniana (photo taken by an NPR listener)

It's great to see a piece like this promoting lichenology in the media!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

USA Science

Last month I volunteered to take part in the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo in our nation's capital, Washington D.C.! There were all kinds of exhibits hosted by agencies, professional science organizations, and businesses like NASA, the American Society for Microbiology, and Lockheed Martin.

Our mission is to re-invigorate the interest of our nation’s youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by producing and presenting the most compelling, exciting, educational and entertaining science gatherings in the United States.

If the powers that be decide to throw this festival a second time, it would be great to have a representation of the country's leading lichenological, bryological, and mycological societies. I'll keep an eye on future plans!

- Brendan

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beneficial Microbes

Recently I attended the American Society for Microbiology's 3rd Conference on Beneficial Microbes, which was held in Miami, FL. It was great to meet so many people using techniques similar to the ones that I am using for my research into the bacteria of the lichen microbiome. I was especially excited to go to the session entitled 'Ecology and evolution of microbial communities' since this is one of the major topics that interests me. There were talks by some of the stars of microbial community ecology (e.g., Dr. Rob Knight and Dr. Ruth Ley) and other great talks as well. There were certainly other sessions with interesting talks, too, including one by Dr. Giles Oldroyd on 'Reprogramming Plant Cells for Endosymbiosis.'

Here is a short description of the conference:
"Biologists are becoming increasingly aware that animals and plants have coevolved with diverse assemblages of microorganisms that are required for normal health and development. Not surprisingly, the activity of these symbiont communities is also likely to profoundly affect all aspects of the host’s physiology. An understanding of these complex interactions requires contributions from a diverse, multidisciplinary group of researchers, including microbial ecologists and geneticists. The goal of this conference is to bring together a wide array of scientific expertise to foster the development of this rapidly expanding field of biology."

I returned excited to continue my research on the lichen microbiome, and I look forward to speaking again with some of the people that I met!

- Brendan