12 Questions from students about the (Wild) Life of Our Bodies

Today we have a special Q & A from Kelly Allen and her East Chapel Hill HS Biology II (Human Biology) students. Each year Allen’s students participate in Biology Book Clubs and this year they read Rob Dunn’s The Wild Life of Our Bodies. Without further ado, questions asked by high school juniors and seniors to Rob Dunn:  

Amanda: Why did humans lose their ability to detect who a person is by their scent, while other primates and mammals still are able to do so?  Since its something needed for survival, I would have thought that our ability to smell would have improved, so […]

By | May 18th, 2015|Belly Button Biodiversity, Q & A, Your Mites|1 Comment

Meet Your Mites: Family Style

Over the last few months, our first cohort of Students Discover Kenan Fellows have been busy in their classrooms piloting and refining the citizen science curricula they co-created with their scientist mentors from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.

If you dropped by their middle school classrooms, you would have seen students busy collecting and analyzing all sorts of new data. They’ve deployed camera traps in schoolyards to capture the secret lives of urban mammals. They’ve planted dandelions in different soil types and sampled the changes in microbes over time. They’ve scraped oily goop from each other’s faces […]

By | March 11th, 2015|Behind the Scenes, Education, Your Mites|0 Comments

Our Bodies Are a Habitat

Thanks to PBS Digital Studios and YouTuber Coma Niddy we can now add face mites to the list of subjects featured in a science parody music video!

“You might not think you have mites. But you do! So face it, our bodies are a habitat!”

Head on over to Coma Niddy’s original post to read more about his experience meeting his face mites!

By | February 16th, 2015|Education, Video, Your Mites|0 Comments

Good News: We’ve all got mites!

Over the last year and a half, hundreds of you volunteered to have your faces scraped for science. In looking at the contents of your face goop, we’ve uncovered some of the mysteries of the tiny, some might even say charming, arthropod that lives within the hair follicles and glands of your skin — your Demodex mites. Today we’re pleased to announce the publication of our first research paper from the Meet Your Mites project:

Thoemmes MS, Fergus DJ, Urban J, Trautwein M, Dunn RR (2014) Ubiquity and Diversity of Human-Associated Demodex Mites. PLoS ONE 9(8): e106265. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106265

Get […]

By | August 27th, 2014|Explainer, Reading List, Your Mites|1 Comment

Behind the Science: A Meeting of Scientists and their Mites at Evolution 2014

Once a year, thousands of evolutionary biologists, students, and educators from all around the world converge on a single city for the annual Evolution meeting. The Evolution meeting is jointly hosted by three professional scientific societies: the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB), and the American Society of Naturalists (ASN). Scientific meetings like Evolution provide an opportunity for the scientific community to come together to share ideas and research findings — formally through talks and poster presentations and informally at evening socials and in pubs and restaurants, where these scientific ideas are […]

By | July 2nd, 2014|Behind the Scenes, Events, Your Mites|0 Comments

The Future of Discovery

In March 2014, Rob spoke at TEDxSantaCruz, explaining how much we don’t know about the species living on us, in us and around us – the life, large and small, inhabiting our belly buttons, our foreheads, our homes, our backyards.

He shared the approach we’re taking at Your Wild Life (and in our new Students Discover education initiative) to harness the power of the public – via citizen science – to make real discoveries about these species with whom we share our daily lives.

To quote his final thought in the talk, “We can see more together than we can […]

The Cosmos of Your Body

Inspired by some recent visualizations of the solar system and the return of COSMOS, we decided to jump into our own “Ship of the Imagination.” Our lab is interested in what lives in us, on us and around us – the biodiversity in our daily lives. We tend to focus on creatures, like face mites, that are so intimately connected with our humanity yet so different from what we have understood about ourselves up until now. We get so excited about these investigations that it’s easy to lose track of the scale of our own […]

By | March 17th, 2014|Education, Your Mites|0 Comments

Delayed Gratification, Citizen Science and Why You Might Not Have Received an Email about Your Sample Yet

But, If You Are So Willing, You’ll Receive Emails and Updates for the Next 10 Years. Also, Did I Tell You about the Cats?

I do not have any particular predilection for delayed gratification. I can’t watch YouTube videos because I don’t like not being able to control the pace and see where I am going. I don’t like departmental seminars because almost inevitably one can read the paper faster (and get to the good parts) than one can listen to the talk. Actually, this is too meek of a statement. I actually hate departmental seminars. My wife is patient. My […]

Looking ahead to 2014 — We want to hear from YOU!

Time sure flies when we’re having fun, doesn’t it? With 2013 winding down, we think it’s a good time to pause and take stock of where we’ve been this last year.

A few highlights:

  • We’ve sent hundreds, nay thousands (!), of swabs off to Colorado for DNA sequencing to identify the tiny organisms living on the surfaces of homes. Noah Fierer recently shared an exciting update about those analyses:

We’re now […]

Time to Meet Your Mites!

May we scrape your face for SCIENCE?

I imagine this is not a question one generally expects to be asked when visiting his or her friendly neighborhood natural history museum.

And yet it’s one we’ve asked on a fairly regular basis during public outreach events over the last few months at the Nature Research Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

You would be AMAZED (I know I have been) at the number of enthusiastic volunteers who have stepped right up to participate, curious to learn a something about the tiny organisms that call their pores home.

By | May 17th, 2013|Events, Participate, Projects, Video, Your Mites|9 Comments