Dude! Bacteria Are, Like, Democratic?

// April 15th, 2009 // Blog

Watching this video reminds me of why I love Biology so much. I'd kinda forgotten during the malaise of my PhD. But I really do love scientific discovery.

If you made it to the end of the video: that's a traditional thing among Biologists when they give presentations; they usually big up the rest of their lab via a group photo. See how many people were working on just ONE biochemical pathway? Admittedly, it's a fascinating one, with potentially huge implications; so I doubt Dr Bassler has any problem finding the funding to hire so many eager PhD students and young postdocs.

During my PhD, the neighbouring lab group that shared our floor was largely focussed on researching one gene. I regularly observed the individual team members pairing off to converse about their latest findings, generating new ideas along the way. In contrast, every member of our group was working on a separate pathway, with little crossover between us. Well, I did have another PhD student researching the same gene set as me: but she wasn't one for sharing, unfortunately.

I never really had anyone to bounce ideas off of during my project. I had plenty of people to turn to for technical assistance, but not inspiration. I have learnt that if am not sufficiently inspired, then I become very inefficient in my duties. You don't go into something as dynamic as scientific research for it to then become one big chore. I may as well return to working as a till girl at the local supermarket: the pay is comparable, and I'd have a far more healthy social life.

Watching the video reminded me of why I love Biology… but also, why I love working with people who love Biology as much as I do. I don't know if I'll ever return to working in a laboratory – but it's nice to know that some loves are more constant than others.

8 Responses to “Dude! Bacteria Are, Like, Democratic?”

  1. hfm says:

    gosh, it’s so nice reading this.
    I love how we are all awed by different things.
    :]

  2. Manas Shaikh says:

    Awesome. Only she didn’t specify what she did with the molecules to turn the communication off.

  3. Specs says:

    Yeah, I’m with HFM here. Its great how everyone in the world has one love. That they would work for. And towards.

    I hope you find a partner in your research.

    (are you also TED fan?)

  4. nadia says:

    Very fascinating. I love Molecular Biology! (And Biochemistry too.)

    Reminds me of my microbiology lectures in my sophomore year. They only taught about the intra-species communication in undergrad lectures (I think the molecule is acylhomoserine lactone if I’m not mistaken). I didn’t know about the intra-species thing until about 15 minutes ago.

    Subhanallah! The world is full of amazing stuff! :)

  5. iMuslim says:

    Yes, I am falling in love with Ted! Shh… don’t tell my parents. ;)

    I didn’t specialize in Microbiology, so I had no idea about the intra- or interspecies communication, other than the swapping of genetic material. It’s amazing, indeed!

  6. nadia says:

    oh snap. just realized that i meant to say in the previous post was “i didn’t know about the *inter*-species thing until about 15 minutes ago.”

    haha. shows that i need to read my comments first before posting them up.

    btw, biochemistry is SO much better than microbiology because less memorization is required for the former. :P

  7. iMuslim says:

    I was never a big fan of Chemistry as an academic subject… I’m a hardcore Biologist. :) Though undoubtedly, a good knowledge of Chemistry is helpful when it comes to tweaking your Mol Bio research experiments. A dodgy pH can ruin everything!

  8. Qas says:

    I was the total opposite. Majored in both bio and chem, but couldn’t stand bio. Loved physiology, though.

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