We, Beasties

It is an honor and a privilege to be joining ScienceBlogs. Many of the first blogs that I ever read were on this network, and the efforts of PZ, ERV and Orac (among others) to communicate science directly from the lab to readers was in large part what motivated me to start blogging myself. I love the process of discovery that is made possible by science, but I also think that any discovery is useless if it's not communicated to others. We welcome your comments, questions and criticisms, and hope that you enjoy reading. But first, let me tell you a bit about who we are and what we do.

In 1674, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek pointed a microscope at pond water and saw what he called "wee beasties" flitting about, kicking off the field of microbiology. Since then, scientists have discovered microorganisms living just about everywhere, in every kind of environment, from the crushing depths of the ocean in hydrothermal vents to the crypts of our own intestines. WE beasties are graduate students at Harvard, studying some of the many ways that microbes make their impact on the world.

As my PI once said, "We don't live in a perfect world; We live in a microbial world." Indeed, there are ten times more bacteria cells in your gut than there are human cells in your entire body (another reason I think "We, Beasites" is so apt). In just about every ecosystem on earth, microorganisms bracket the food chain as producers at the base and decomposers at the peak.

I (Kevin Bonham) am in the immunology program at Harvard, and study the interactions between microorganisms and the mammalian immune system. My work revolves around the signaling networks downstream of Toll-like receptors, which recognize conserved molecular patterns on bacteria, viruses and fungi and kick-start the earliest immune responses.

Heather Olins, Emily Gardel and Dipti Nayak will be occasional contributers. Heather studies the microbes at the base of the food chain in hydrothermal vents that use chemical and heat energy rather than solar energy to fuel their habitat. Emily studies the way that microbes produce energy with the goal of harnessing their efficiency to produce electricity. Dipti studies the evolution of metabolic pathways in bacteria that eat single carbon compounds.

We've already put up some of our favorite posts from the last year to give you a sense of what we're about, but feel free to kick around our old location on your own.

Thanks for having us, we hope you enjoy!