This piece also debuts the special series we are curating in partnership with the scientific journal mSystems; “Special Series: Social Equity as a Means of Resolving Disparities in Microbial Exposure“. Over the next few months to a year, we will be adding additional peer-reviewed, cutting edge research, review, concept, and perspective pieces from researchers around the globe on a myriad of topics which center around social inequity and microbial exposures.
This fall, my speaking engagements will all be held virtually, to aid in ongoing infectious-disease-prevention protocols. While in place to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, these same protocols will also help me avoid the annual fall respiratory infection that I otherwise inevitably encounter while working with overly-stressed students.
But, staying away from others doesn’t mean I can’t stay connected! Virtual events might not feel as fun, but they have allowed me to reach a wider audience, because recorded talks are made available after the live event. And, annotated or subtitled recordings make my talks more accessible!
This fall, I have several public talks and scientific presentations lined up:
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Oxford County 4-H Teen Science Cafe (virtual), “Gut microbes on the farm”, Oct 15, 2020. For teens, this event is free but does require registration to obtain the link.
Genomes to Phenomes (G2P) group, University of Maine. Co-hosting a session with grad student Alice Hotopp, on gut microbes and survival of reintroduced animals. Oct 30, 2020. Link available to University of Maine community members.
University of Maine Medicine seminar series (virtual), “A crash course in the gut microbiome” , Nov 6, 2020. This event is open to the public and free, but does require registration to obtain the link.
Hotopp, A., Silverbrand, S., Ishaq, S.L., MacRae, J., Stock, S.P., Groden, E. “Can a necromenic nematode serve as a biological Trojan horse for an invasive ant?” Entomological Society of America 2020 (virtual). Nov 15-18, 2020. This pre-recorded seminar requires paid event registration.
Yeoman (presenter), C., Lachman, M., Ishaq, S., Olivo, S., Swartz, J., Herrygers, M., Berarddinelli, J. “Development of Climactic Oral and Rectal Microbiomes Corresponds to Peak Immunoglobin Titers in Lambs.” Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases (CRWAD) 2020. (Virtual) Dec 5, 2020. This seminar requires paid event registration.
Last week, I gave a presentation to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Oxford County 4-H Jamboree.
The video is available on YouTube, with subtitles! I sat down to learn how to create and embed them in videos, to help make my science more approachable. The video is made for kids and contains suitable content for all ages, although the difficulty of the content makes it best for kids 12 and up.
From their main page, you can find descriptions of each virtual session, including subject material, presenter, and recommended age group (k-12). You can register for as many or as few sessions as you like, which will be delivered over Zoom.
Registration is free! But if you are able to donate to support the program, those are welcome through the 4H site.
I’ll be presenting on Thursday, August 13th, 2020 at 3 pm EST.
Learn about different digestive tracts in livestock, and the community of microbes living there that help animals digest food, or stay healthy. This presentation will give some background on different digestive tract anatomy, the factors which influence microbes in the gut, and how we can care for animals by caring for their microbes. This presentation will also feature a short presentation on Dr. Ishaq’s journey into science and a Q&A session where attendees can ask questions about gut microbes, life as a scientist, or how to get involved in this time of career. Register by August 12.
What do compost, food security, and social justice have in common? They are all part of creating sustainable, more localized food systems that benefit the community. Want to know more? Check out the piece I co-wrote for The Conversation, along with two other soil microbe researchers.
The journal is called Frontier for Young Minds, and pairs a young scientist with an established scientist to review your articles, a ~1,500 word summary version. The journal provides cartoon illustrations that help bring your science to life.
Ours was written by an undergrad I was mentoring at UO, Sam Rosenberg, and architecture grad student Julia May helped us with our Figures. I wasn’t involved with the original article, but along with Ashkaan, I helped Sam draft the summary as non-technical summaries of highly-technical science can be a real challenge. Check it out!
Rosenberg, S., Ishaq, S., May, J., Fahimipour, A.K. 2020. How light exposure changes bacterial communities in household dust. Frontiers for Young Minds.Article.
Last night, I gave my first “science stand-up” as part of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) Science Pub series at Whirled Pies in Eugene, OR. I really enjoy giving public presentations of my work, and while I’ve been on stage with a microphone before, it was the first time I got a stool to put my drink on.
I gave a talk which encompassed much of my previous work on host-associated microbiomes in moose and other ruminants, as well as more current research from others on the human gut. It’s difficult enough to fit the field of host-associated microbiomes into a semester-long class, nevermind an hour (I digress), so I kept it to the highlights: “A crash course on the microbiome of the digestive tract“. You can find the slides here: Ishaq OMSI SciPub 20180208, although there is no video presentation at this time. I was honored to have such a well-attended lecture (about 120 people!) with an engaged audience, who had some really on-track questions about the intersection of microbial diversity and health.
As I’ve discussed here before, academic outreach is a sometimes overlooked, yet nevertheless extremely important, aspect of science. The members of the general public are a large portion of our stakeholder audience, and outreach helps disseminate that research knowledge, facilitate transparency of the research process, and engage people who might benefit from or be interested in our work. As I told the audience last night, scientists do like when people ask us about our work, but “we’re more scared of you than you are of us”. I encourage everyone to add science to their life by getting informed, getting involved, and getting out to vote.
Thanks again to OMSI for inviting me to participate, and to Whirled Pies for hosting!
As a thank you, I received this awesome pint glass!
In addition to knowing how our presence, our behaviors (ex. cleaning), and how we run our buildings (ex. ventilation) creates the indoor microbiome, I want to know how the indoor microbiome affects us back. Not only can “sick buildings” negatively affect air quality, but they can harbor more microorganisms, especially fungi, or pathogenic species which are detrimental to our health.
My first indoor microbiome data is one that I have inherited from an ongoing project on weatherization in homes, and hope to present some of that work at conferences this summer. Since June, a large amount of my time has gone into project development and grant writing, most of which is still pending, so stay tuned for details. It has involved read lots of articles, going to seminars, networking, and brainstorming with some brilliant researchers.
As research faculty, I am not required to teach, although I have the option to propose and teach courses by adjusting my percent effort (I would use the teaching salary to “buy back” some research salary). As I am not currently tenure-track, I am also limited in my ability to hire and formally mentor students. However, I have been teaching bioinformatics to a student who recently graduated with his bachelor’s and is pursuing a masters in bioinformatics later this year.
I’ve also been keeping up with my science outreach. I gave a presentation on my host-associated microbiome work, I marched, I volunteered for a few hours at Meet A Scientist day at the Eugene Science Center, and I’m hosting a Science Pub on “A crash course in the microbiome of the digestive tract” at Whirled Pies in Eugene this Thursday, February 8th!
The end of 2017 marks the second year of my website, as well as another year of life-changing events, and reflecting on the past year’s milestones help put all those long hours into perspective. I reviewed my year last year, and found it particularly helpful in focusing my goals for the year ahead.
This involved another large move, not only from Montana to Oregon, which has led to some awesome new adventures, but also from agriculture and animal science to indoor microbiomes and building science. So far, it has been a wonderful learning experience for incorporating research techniques and perspectives from other fields into my work.
This year, I added fournewresearchpublications and one review publication to my C.V., and received word that a massive collaborative study that I contributed to was accepted for publication- more on that once it’s available. In April, I hosted a day of workshops on soil microbes for the Expanding Your Horizons for Girls program at MSU, and I gave a seminar at UO on host-associated microbiomes while dressed up as a dissected cat on Halloween. In November, I participated in a Design Champs webinar; a pilot series from BioBE which provides informational discussions to small groups of building designers on aspects of how architecture and biology interact.
I published 34 posts in 2017, including this one, which is significantly fewer than the 45 I published in 2016. However, I have doubled my visitor traffic and views over last year’s totals: over 2,000 visitors with over 3,200 page views in 2017! My highest-traffic day was April 27th, 2017. While I am most popular in the United States, I have had visitors from 92 countries this year!
I also added some “life” to my work-life balance; in November, I married my best friend and “chief contributor“, Lee Warren, in a small, stress-free ceremony with some local friends in Eugene, Oregon!!
I have high hopes for 2018, notably, I’d like to finish more of the projects that have been in development over the last two years during my post-docs. Nearly all academics carry forward old projects: some need additional time for experimentation or writing, some get shelved temporarily due to funding or time constraints, some datasets get forgotten and gather dust, and some which got cut short because of the need to move to a new job. This is a particular concern as grant funding and length of job postings become shorter, forcing researchers to cut multi-year projects short or finish them on their own time. After defending in early 2015, I had two one-year postings and started at UO in June 2017, making this my fourth job in three years. I’m looking forward to roosting for a bit, not only to clear out unfinished business, but also to settle into my new job at BioBE. This fall, I have been analyzing data on a weatherization project, writing a handful of grants, and developing pilot projects with collaborators. I have really enjoyed my first six months at BioBE, and Lee and I have taken a shine to Eugene. In the next few months, I hope to have more posts about my work there, exciting new developments in BioBE and ESBL, and more insights into the work life of an academic. Happy New Year!