the PZ effect

Ha! funny. Never would I get a hit, but because PZ linked my blog, I got 2 comments. 1 nice person, and 1 crazy person.

If ppl want to read about my bits, fits and starts, be my guest. Say hi once in a while, and plz let me know if I say something factually inaccurate.

I love keeping my toes in restoration ecology, because I think that is what hooked me into biology. That and my 7th grade biology teacher who taught me my first Punnett's square. I love genomics, the fusion of computer sciences and biology. I also think the future is in the soil. I used to be a plant ecology/ plant genetics person. But once I got out in the field, I realized the soil is the great unknown in plant ecology.

Now I study fungi. Soil fungi. Ascomycota, generally. Eurotiomycetes, specifically. Well, even more so, Onygenales. And for my PhD primarily Coccidioides. And know you know all there is to know.


random thought for the day

The effects of inbreeding may be mitigated in plant populations by a phenomenon known as purging of genetic load. Over time, inbred plants show decreased fitness followed by a rebound in certain fitness traits, and can exhibit higher fitness than the original population (Crnokrak and Barrett 2002). Darwin first noticed this in his breeding experiments with Ipomoea. This phenomenon is referred to as purging the genetic load, and may be a way in which plants are able to decrease frequency of deleterious alleles in a population. This has been extensively tested under laboratory and greenhouse conditions, however fewer studies have been conducted in the field to determine if this is an important phenomenon in natural populations.


fungal virulence

Virulence or pathogenicity is a microbial trait expressed in a susceptible host and that trait allows the pathogen to cause damage to the host. In general fungi can be divided into two groups, those that are commensal and become an opportunistic infection, and endemics, which are those fungi that are acquired from the environment and have the ability to cause disease (Casadevall et al. 2003; Romani and Howard 1995; Rooney and Klein 2002). Commensal fungi are organisms such as Candida albicans that grow on human skin and do not usually cause any disease, except in rare cases of exposure to extremely virulent strains in hospitals or immune suppression that releases the fungus from host control. Endemic fungi are usually acquired from the environment by inhalation or dermal invasion. Mammals are exposed to fungal spores everyday, but don’t usually get sick. The innate immune system is capable of recognizing and destroying most fungi before any harm is done. Often, sickness results from exposure to toxins, rather than development of a persistent infection. However, when a mammal is exposed to a fungal pathogen such as Coccidioides spp., Histoplasma capsulatum, Cryptococcus neoformans, Paracoccidiodes brasilienses, Aspergillis fumigatus, Penicilium marneffi, Sporothrix schenkii, or Blastomyces dermatiditis, a more severe disease may develop. These fungal pathogens are not restricted to a single class or order; indeed, it appears that fungi have developed virulence in mammalian hosts, independently and multiple times.


To be faculty

I wonder why/how anyone does it?? I feel like I am organized and a smart person, but I have the hardest time publishing. I get the experiments done, figure out the answer, give a talk, and then, I get bored. How can one stay motivated and see it to the finish?? hmmmm. I'd rather go camping.


Plos article


I like to think that the debate is over. I am beginning to realize the threat that science poses to religion. Surrounding myself with others who think as I do, it is often hard to see that most people do not think critically, and indeed view it as a sin to do so.