Posted 1 day ago

The water samples I collected at the estuary were kind of… barren. There just wasn’t much life in them. I guess it could be chalked up to pollution or something, especially considering there was an industrial power plant right at the mouth of the estuary. 

I did find some neat string algae though. You can see chloroplasts in the 2nd picture and cell walls in the 2nd and 3rd. 

Posted 4 days ago

I finally arrived at California! I’m gonna spend the first 1-2 days in and around Sequoia Nat’l park, so no ocean plankton samples just yet. In the meantime, here’s a strange grasshopper(?) I found at a gas station on the way here, near the Arizona-California border. 

Edit: It’s an Insara covilleae! Also known as Creosote Bush Katydid

Posted 6 days ago

Rube Goldberg, eat your heart out


or, why HIV has not been cured

This post is a doozy. It’s probably an exercise in futility, probably not going to get 150k notes like the Chris Rock one that inspired it (I’ll be surprised if it gets 20). Probably most people won’t make it through the whole thing because there’s a lot and, although I’ve tried to nix the jargon as much as I can, this topic is, by its very nature, highly technical. And, you know, “a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its pants on”… but what the hell, I’m not sleeping anyway.

As a disclaimer, as of this writing, I’m a fourth-year microbiology undergrad — I’m not an expert. I know the starting points and some jump-off points, but I don’t know everything and I don’t mean to claim that I do. But everything is sourced (nearly 50 of them!) and backed up by evidence.

So, let’s talk HIV, drug research, and the human body.

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Posted 2 weeks ago

Good news! I finally got this in the mail!

It looks like some strange medical equipment, but it’s actually a specialized net used to concentrate plankton in water samples. Some of you might have seen this image floating around on the internet:

This photo, taken by David Liittschwager, is often accompanied by a caption such as “life in a single drop of ocean water!”. Not entirely true. The ocean is full of planktonic life, but not that much. What you are seeing is the concentrated sample of plankton, made possible by nets. 

Speaking of which, I’m planning a trip to California next month and while I’m there I’m hoping to get some neat ocean samples. I’ll also visit an estuary, which are incredibly diverse ecosystems, and get some samples from there as well. 

Posted 1 month ago


The wallpaper on which Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin in 1928.

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Posted 1 month ago

Lots of different organisms, including a two-headed platyhelminth near the end. 

Posted 1 month ago

A little snail I found in a pond water sample. It was the size of a small pebble. 

Posted 1 month ago


Blepharisma, a pink protist.

These microorganisms are photophobic, meaning they have an aversion to light. This makes them rather difficult to photograph since the moment you shine a microscope light on them they try to swim away. 

The frustration of trying to photograph them was well worth it, though

Posted 1 month ago

The pictures above are of microscopic crustaceans called copepods. The first two are copepod nauplii, which are the larval forms. The third picture is an adult carrying two egg sacs. 

The larvae of copepods look quite similar to the larvae of another organism…

Pictured here is a barnacle larvae. Their similar appearance is not a coincidence. Believe it or not, barnacles are also crustaceans.

Although we tend to think of crustaceans as crabs and lobsters, they actually come in a variety of forms, ranging from sessile barnacles to giant marine isopods to the blind and worm-like Remipedia. There are thousands of species that are parasites, and some are even parasites of other crustaceans. 

The majority of these crustaceans are microscopic. In fact, copepods are tied with krill (also a type of crustacean) when it comes to having the highest animal biomass

(The first three pictures are mine. The fourth picture is not mine, its from here)

Posted 1 month ago

Aelosoma, microscopic worms found in aquatic environments, have a unique way of reproducing. They mostly just keep growing lengthwise and then split themselves horizontally into 2 or 3 individuals. The pictures show the site of a soon-to-be split. You can see the outline of the head of the posterior worm starting to form.