Sunday, December 30, 2012

Microbiology / Science Trends in Web Search (2004-2012)

Just caught wind of this Google Trends tool that shows you the worldwide web search interest in any term you give it from the period 2004-2012. It then scales the data over time as a percentage from 0 to 100%, with 100% being the peak of the search intensity.

So I dipped into some science words. Interesting trends below...

-reassuring but no surprise here. Looks like we're now in an exponential growth phase

- odd oscillations that I cant quite put a finger on, but note increasing trend over time

-Note how popular this term was 8 years ago, prior to rush of studies on microbial diversity in hosts, now referred to as microbiome and microbiota

-same problem as microbial diversity, above

-Yowza, trend seems to show pretty big decline with a flatline now. Is this correlated to rise of anti-evolution bills, I wonder.

-again, I take this as a concerning sign. Sigh

-uggghh, more sighs

-positive control in this experiment works!

Grant Writing Inspiration [picture]

Bringing out the big guns for a dose of grant writing inspiration today

Coffee, check
Spicy hot cocoa to add kick, check
Candle (and cello music) ambiance, check
Darwin bobble, check
Matryoshka doll for symbiosis, check
Foam earth ball to toss against wall, check

Brain upgrade initiating....

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"The Large Immune Effect" - Vlog 2

In this 2nd video blog (vlog), I introduce the concept of the Large Immune Effect - a colloquial term first introduced in our Speciation by Symbiosis Review in Trends in Ecology and Evolution 27(8):443. The Large Immune Effect refers to the collection of evolution studies that provide evidence that immune genes are the most rapidly evolving in human and other animal's genomes and undergo the most adaptive evolution. As a result, immune genes are agents of change that can drive population shifts in the microbiome which may parallel the evolutionary history of the host. Its interconnections with Phylosymbiosis are presented, which is a term that was previous discussed in video blog (vlog) 1. As mentioned previously, I view these vlogs so far as experiments that will only survive or not with your feedback. I look forward to your criticisms or support on the video blogging vs. text blogging and the concepts in the videos. Thanks, Seth

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Phylosymbiotic" - Vlog 1

I've decided to incorporate video blogs in order to make some of the information exchange here more immersive and interactive. While I can't see the others watching or reading these blogs, I do know that I appreciate video over reading myself. Scientists are often out of the comfort zone on video, and stick to what they know best - writing. But in my opinion we need not worry so much as the point of social media, blogging, and microblogging is to connect. Video blogging can be easier and more immersive, thus establishing better connections. Through video and the general media, science has a better opportunity to increase scientific literacy. So here goes jumping into the video blogosphere head first. Hope others consider doing this too -Seth

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Digitization of Education: What is all the fuss about MOOC?

Have you heard the buzz around Massive Open Online Education (MOOC) over the last year? How much do you really know? From the Khan Academy videos to the water cooler talk among department colleagues who are rightfully concerned about the future of their profession, there is a tidal wave of change potentially coming to Universities. 

Information technology has changed every industry it has touched and it is currently in the nascent stages of changing academia. Ten years from now if information technology has its way, education will be far different, more immersive, and hopefully more beneficial to the masses than it is today. The division of student and professor will possibly be blurred as the conventional rules of linear lecturing will be decommissioned to an academic world that the student hasn't created, but nonetheless gets to affect through their own online learning.

I have been looking for a good article or video on MOOCs to brush up on my basic understanding of them. This one is it. Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller gives a perfect 20 minute breakdown via her TED talk. It touches on the need, promise, opportunities, and fears of MOOCs.

For a critique of the MOOC movement, see this recently published article.  The MOOC movement is not an indicator of educational evolution.