Meet a Microbiologist: Erica Hartmann

Erica’s foray into science didn’t specifically begin with microbiology. Her father worked at NASA and while accompanying him to work on “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” every year, she’s tried all sorts of things, even astronaut ice cream. She’s read a lot about science and her interest grew. “The Hot Zone especially scared the bejeezus out of me but was also fascinating,” she recalls. She grew up near Reston, Virginia, where Reston Virus (causes Ebola symptoms in non-human primates) was discovered. While she was in high school, she closely followed the race to sequence the human genome. “It felt hugely important and revolutionary, and I wanted to be a part of it,” Erica says. (more…)


Meet a microbiologist: Naomi Boxall

Naomi Boxall is not afraid to point out that the pictures of people in white lab coats with colorful vials of liquids do not show how real science is done. She’s had to take one of those pictures herself. Her time in science has led her to sample soil and water in the Western Australian Wheatbelt, participate in committees and workshops for postdocs and early career scientists, as well as organize morning teas and social events for her department.

A “typical day” does not exist for Naomi. She could be working in the lab one day to writing and supervising students the next day or even building bioreactors another day. She participates in science cafes and volunteers with an all girls science club. The only constant from day to day however, is coffee, food and a lunchtime walk. Naomi states, “what is good is that no day is the same as the one before and I enjoy that everything is varied and challenging.” (more…)


A year of microbes

Of course there are way too many microbiology stories than I can blog about. Here are some other fascinating finds throughout the year:

A bacteria that eats plastic: Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) is a component of many plastic products that have accumulated in large quantities in the environment. Researchers have isolated a bacterium that uses PET as its main energy and carbon source. This bacterium can be further developed to efficiently degrade or ferment PET waste products. (more…)