Jennifer Tsang

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Microbes at work in your kimchi

Kimchi is the national dish of South Korea and has become a global trend in the last several years. With its distinct and pungent odor, people seem to either love this stuff or despise it with all their passion. Kimchi is a mixture of vegetables and seasonings that is fermented before it is eaten. It is spicy, salty, and tangy all at the same time. (more…)

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The Olympics: Microbes vs. Humans

As the world watches the Olympics, the journal Nature Microbiology hosted the Microbial Olympics.

Here are some highlights from this year's Microbial Olympics events:

(1) Synchronized swarming: Swarming is a coordinated movement of bacterial populations to spread out over solid or semi-solid surfaces. Swarming speeds are comparable to swimming speeds in the same organism. In the synchronized swarming competition, bacterial populations are judged on how quickly they swarm on a semi-solid agar surface. Bacterial populations start in the middle of the surface and move outwards to the finish line. The medalists for this event are the well known swarmers, Vibrio parahaemolyticus (gold), Proteus mirabilis (silver) and Bacillus subtilis (bronze). (more…)

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Lost in translation: From scientists to the press and to the public

"You don't really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother." - quote attributed to Albert Einstein

As a scientist, we often find that people have a hard time understanding what we do. Family and friends may expect that we make giant strides in our work everyday, making important breakthroughs or discoveries left and right. They may not understanding how slow science is or why our research is important or even what our research is about. (more…)

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Microbe of the month: Nanopusillus acidilobi, an archaeon found in Yellowstone National Park

"Life has evolved to thrive in environments that are extreme only by our limited human standards: in the boiling battery acid of Yellowstone hot springs, in the cracks of permanent ice sheets, in the cooling waters of nuclear reactors, miles beneath the Earth's crust, in pure salt crystals, and inside the rocks of the dry valleys of Antarctica." -Jill Tarter, astronomer

Yellowstone National Park (YNP) is well known for its geothermal features and diverse ecosystems. With features such as hot spring, geysers, canyons and forests, it's no wonder that the biodiversity (microbial and not) at YNP is enormous. (more…)

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Scared of subway germs? Fear not, for they are harmless

"You can either embrace the dirt and the germs as part of the risky joy of living in an exciting, overpopulated metropolis, or you can spend lots of mental real estate obsessing over whether you touched a few extra microbes when you got on the subway.” - Zack Love

I have to admit that I am somewhat of a germaphobe. When I first moved to Boston and spent over two hours a day on the subway (called the T) to get to and from lab, I feared I would get sick all the time from touching things or sitting next to someone coughing up a lung. But was my fear of the T warranted? (more…)