Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year

Happy holidays and happy new year!  Even our lab bacteriophage is in the holiday spirit (enjoy the pictures below).

Thanks for reading Prophage as I got it started this year.  This has been a great year and I look forward to another wonderful year of blogging in 2014.

Our lab phage is ready for its next experiment, as well as the holiday season.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How You can Learn the Programming Basics in an Hour (Code Week 2013)

This probably would have best been posted a few days ago, but this week is computer science education week, or "code week" (coding just means writing computer programs).  From December 9th to the 15th, over a million people all over the US are promoting computer science for students ranging from elementary school to college, as well as those of us finished with school.  This is not only really cool because it is generating enthusiasm for computer science education, but it is also providing a lot of real educational resources (like online tutorials) for people of all ages to learn how to code (how cool is that?!).  In this post I want to go over some of the cool things about the code week initiative, talk about why it's important, and offer some of my experiences as a biomedical scientist who started computer science work in his graduate thesis lab with little previous computational knowledge.

Many people are intimidated by the prospect of working with computers (programming).  In my experience, one of the biggest things that really turns people off to programming is that they think it is super difficult to learn a computer language and that they can't do it.  I have experienced this multiple times when talking to fellow biomedical researchers who want to start integrating computational biology into their own work.  People are often concerned that they will be unable to learn because they don't have a computational background, and/or they are worried because they don't know where to start or what the learning process will entail.  To this I always respond by telling them that they certainly do not need a computer background to learn programming, and that the basics are surprisingly easier to learn than they think.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Recent Publication: The Skin Microbiome in Health and Disease

A couple of days ago, Elizabeth Grice (my research advisor) and I had a review published in this month's issue of Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine.  The title of our featured piece is "Microbial Ecology of the Skin in the Era of Metagenomics and Molecular Microbiology", and it is all about the skin microbiome in health and disease.  This is an open source article (meaning you can access it for free), and is worth a read because it offers a nice general summary of the skin microbiome.