Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Welcome to Decipher the Science

Hello!  Welcome to my science blog.  The purpose of this blog is to break down science that makes it into the popular media (like msnbc, cnn, fox news, etc...) so that the average person more fully understands the research being presented.  Many times people who report on science do not have any science background and do not necessarily have the skills to fully explain the research they are reporting on.  This often leads to inaccuracies and misrepresentations of the work.  In addition, there is often key information that is important to the science is left out, leaving the average person without all the relevant information they need to fully understand the ethical considerations of the work as well as the potential benefits the research offers.  When I read the comments sections of health-related science articles, I see a lot of people with misconceptions about the work and about scientists in general.  I hope that I can bridge some of these gaps and better explain popular science articles to my readers.  I am also willing to answer questions you have about the articles/topics I cover or really anything (science-related) that a reader has a question about.

My main area of interest and expertise is virology, but I am well-versed in cell biology, genetics, evolutionary biology, microbiology, and (somewhat) immunology.  I also have a working knowledge in a broad range of other biology-related topics.  To give you a little bit of background about myself: I am currently a third-year Ph.D. student at UNC in the microbiology and immunology department, and my work focuses on evolution of GII.4 noroviruses (a gastrointestinal virus that strikes pretty much everyone at some point) and vaccine design for noroviruses.  I will probably write a post on norovirus soon since this is the time of the year that it hits cruise ships.  Before graduate school, I earned a B.A. in biology from New College of Florida and an M. Ed from Endicott College.  I spent 9 years as a middle school teacher (primarily in science and math) and really enjoyed it!   Someday I hope to get back to teaching students, ideally at a small liberal arts college.

Please enjoy reading my posts, ask questions, post comments, and definitely tell me if I've made a mistake!



  1. have or would you ever go on a cruise ship? if so, would it be for research or pleasure.

    1. I have been on a cruise--twice, in fact. I don't know if I'll go on another one for awhile, but it has nothing to do with norovirus infections (I feel like you don't really get a feel for the places they go because the ports are too touristy). After all, I am probably in the VERY small minority who gets excited when I get norovirus. I would definitely go on cruises if I was allowed to collect samples during outbreaks, but that is kind of a no-no unless you have approval. Really, norovirus could strike you anywhere, and the vast majority of outbreaks are not on cruise ships. It's just that people make a big deal out of norovirus on cruise ships because there are few places worse to have explosive vomiting and diarrhea than on your vacation when you are trapped on a boat in a tiny, rocking room.