The Syrians and Iraqis at Your Dinner Table

Each detail of our daily lives has a history and, just as with any history, it is a history we would do well to learn from. Consider the biology of your dinner table. Your table itself is Syrian or Iraqi as is most of the food on it.

Mesopotamia, about which we all learn in middle school and then promptly forget, is the region between (meso), the two rivers (potomus), the Tigris and the Euphrates. It includes Syria in the West and Iraq in the Southeast and, biologically speaking, should probably also include the Zagros mountains of Iran to the East.

In the […]

By | January 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Islamic Scholars Saved Knowledge (and Science)

My grandfather was concerned with a relatively small number of things in the last years of his life; one of those things was the dark ages. As an intensely curious man, a furiously curious man, he could not fathom how even a single generation of humans lacked the spirit necessary to try to understand their world better than the generations prior. He couldn’t understand a single such generation much less the hundred of them that actually occurred.

And yet history is unequivocal. For more than a thousand years knowledge failed to advance. Rome was sacked. The ignorant book-burning masses moved in. […]

By | June 3rd, 2015|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Ecological Medicine: Can intestinal worms cure us of our modern pandemics?


Hundreds of self-experiments, tens of thousands of worms

In 1976, Jonathan Turton, a British parasitologist was suffering from allergies. Most of the time scientists suffer from maladies just like everyone else. They sniffle. They whine. They ache and curse the universe. They eat the soup that reminds them of their mothers. But sometimes this is not enough. Sometimes a scientist will wake up in the middle of the night with the nagging feeling that she or he is clever enough to do something more. This is when the scientist will start to read […]

By | May 29th, 2015|Uncategorized|14 Comments

The Bear

I was staying in a one, room shack beside a river. The river, a majestic river, reminded me of the sound of a washing machine. My girlfriend was visiting. At night she punched me when a mouse ran over her face. It remains unclear whether her intent was to hurt the mouse or, as I now suspect, me. Each morning the old Czech woman across the dirt road would bring me a glass of fresh milk from the cows. She spoke little Spanish, I no Czech. I couldn’t convince her of the truth, that I am unable to digest milk much […]

By | April 13th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Magic Seeds of UCONN EEB


The amazing thing about trees is that they start as seeds. Some small enough for ants to carry. Others that ride in the guts of bats. Others still that float in the wind, tumbling across fields and continents.

Similarly, the amazing thing about the best scientists is that they start as students. As I say this, I am not thinking about my own students (though my own students have been wonderful, the highlights of my professional life), I am thinking about the young people with whom I started graduate school.

I went to […]

By | April 6th, 2015|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Exciting opportunity in the Genomics and Microbiology Lab at NC Museum of Natural Sciences

As many of you know, we partner with the awesome folks in the Genomics and Microbiology Lab at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences on a number of public science projects: belly button biodiversity, armpit microbes, face mites and soon soil microbes (as part of our new Students Discover education project).

With so much public science and more, they’re looking for a little help on the research and science communication front.

Below is an advertisement for a one-year Research and Outreach Coordinator position – They’re looking for a dynamo with a background in molecular biology, […]

Advice for Scientists Who Want to Write for the Public

by Rob Dunn

We are working on a new book in the lab called The Book of Invisible Life. In this book, we will compile stories about microscopic species, stories written by both professional writers and by scientists. The scientists involved have been asking for tips about writing for the public and so I composed of list of suggestions. These suggestions are biased as a function of my experience and preferred writing style. They are also biased in as much as my original intended audience was scientists unaccustomed to writing for the public.

1-It is about the people. Let’s say that […]

By | June 29th, 2013|Uncategorized|25 Comments

For the Birds

I rarely use my front door. The backdoor is just so darn convenient, being closer to the driveway and all.

Yet the mailbox is out front so once a day I pop open the front door to stealthily reach around the doorframe and grab the mail out of the box attached to the house. I don’t generally step foot on the porch. But the other day, I ventured out onto the stoop to retrieve a package and I found THIS:

Bird droppings. LOTS of them.

One’s first inclination when observing a big […]

By | April 3rd, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life, Uncategorized, Video|0 Comments

Biologist finds aliens in his house, admits to it in public and then asks for help

This post is also cross-posted at our friend Alex Wild’s blog, Myrmecos. Check it out to see more stunning photos of camel crickets by Rob’s graduate school office mate Piotr Naskrecki, AKA Piotr the Great.

I have to be quiet so they don’t hear me. This will be short. We know so little. I have said this before. We know so little. We know so little that you can send out a survey and when you get the responses realize you have accidentally discovered that aliens are living all around you.

[styled_image image=”” w=”450″ h=”300″ align=”right” lightbox=”yes” alt=”In Piotr’s […]