Maryam writes:

Dear Vincent and all the lovely TWiV team

It’s me again, your Iranian TWiV Addict. The weather here in Gorgan is 11 Celsius and mostly cloudy. When I heard your reply I couldn’t stop smiling, it made me so happy. Don’t think I’m crazy but I was walking in the house with a smile on my face, I wanted to wake up everyone and tell them about it but I couldn’t cause they were my guests and I wanted to be polite. Thank you so much.

You asked me to tell you about Iran. You’re right there are so many great people here for example I think my mother is the kindest person I’ve ever seen. I’m sorry that you hear only the bad things but the truth is Iran is a beautiful country full of great people and great cultures. Every city here has its own unique culture. I think what you hear the most is about our government which to be honest nobody likes them here as well and that’s actually the first reason I want to leave this beautiful country.

I envy you having the freedom to talk about everything you want I mean we can’t talk about politics here cause it’s too dangerous. We have to be careful all the time.

You asked me what’s it like to be a student here it’s a little complicated. We have a barrier called “konkur” (Iranian University Entrance Exam). taking this exam is the only way someone can go to the university in any level of education so I think, no!! we can’t study whatever we want because of this “konkur” thing. it’s worked out well for me though. I mean maybe in my first University or my first major (Microbiology) I was accepted by chance (cause Believe me I didn’t know a thing about it) but for my MSc “konkur”, it was different. it’s more specific I mean I decided to study Virology myself. (The Virology exam is in combination with bacteriology, parasitology and mycology). The only way to study Virology is to take that exam and there are only eight Universities that have the Virology program. I’m glad that I’ve accepted to the field I love.

In our MSc program we learn how to be a researcher in the field of Medical Virology. In the first three semesters we have some virology courses, virology lab training programs, seminars, lab meetings and etc. but it’s not satisfying me enough so I’m watching online courses and I asked the lab manager to help her in the lab. I’m trying to learn as much as I can. While we take our classes we have to write our proposal and defend it. If our proposal is approved then we can work on it and do our experimentations and stuff. after we’re done, we have to write our thesis and then we’re gonna defend it. That’s it.

Right now I’m searching in the all databases and reading articles to find my subject. Actually it’s too hard for me to come up with an idea. The only thing I know is that I want to work on Polio and Cancer! I’m very confused these days and I don’t have an advisor professor to help me yet.

Both my Universities were out of my hometown. My hometown is Tehran. It’s too far from where I am now.

PPS. I learned English myself that’s why I thought I had problems. I think I learned it mostly from movies and radio. glad that I’m fine. 🙂

Thank you for everything

Love you all


Asal writes:

Hi TWiV team,

As I was listening to TWiV 430, I was excited to hear Maryam’s email from Iran and decided to reveal my nationality since you all seemed to be curious how education would be in the Persian land! I am an Iranian female, a long-time TWiV listener, and a Patreon supporter!

I have written to TWiV a couple of times before. My husband and I had the pleasure to meet Vincent, Kathy, and Rich at ASV 2016. I am also looking forward to meeting Alan and Dickson some day.

I live in Texas now.

Iranians are pretty much science enthusiasts and math lovers. During my undergrad studies in Iran I had the chance to sit  in virology classes taught by some great Iranian virologists, Dr. Nategh and Dr. Mokhtari-Azad, both of whom are females.– Dr. Mokhtari-Azad also led the polio eradication program in Iran.

As a female scientist, you barely feel suppressed at any levels of education in Iran. It is not rare to be a female leader in Iran either.

After finishing my undergraduate degree in Microbiology and Molecular Biology in Tehran and before I came to the US, I worked in a molecular diagnostics lab specialized for clinical virology. I had realized out of all microbes there was some strong affinity for viruses in me. Tehran was where I learned many of the molecular skills in this area.

In the US, Texas, I finished my graduate studies in clinical lab sciences with emphasis in Molecular diagnostics while working as a supervisor of the Molecular ID department in a reference lab.

Just recently, I have assumed the same role in a Pediatrics Hospital lab. I sometimes teach molecular diagnosis of clinical viruses to graduate students in the field.

I usually tend to be laconic in my writing, but since you were wondering Vincent, I wanted to be thorough. 🙂

It’s never enough to say how informative your show is!

Thanks to all of you wonderful hosts!

Julie writes:

Dear TWiV,

I have been a faithful listener for several years now, and I could elaborate extensively on The value of this podcast and all the TWiX podcasts. Now more than ever, we need solid scientific education and dialogue. I genuinely appreciate all you do, and I cheered out loud alone in my car while listening to Vincent’s rant last week.

I do hope I’m the 27th emailer, as the 23rd was my birthday,  and I love books. It’d be cool to say I got a birthday present from TWiV 🙂 (though I think the podcast itself is quite a lovely gift as it is).

Thanks again for doing such important work. If I ever win the lottery, TWiX is at the top of my Donate-To List.

Signing off from rainy, dreary, 6C North Alabama,


Jarrett writes:

Hello Vincent et al,

I’m writing to secure a copy of Emerging Infections, and also to echo sentiments that have been aired on TWIV about the creepiness of prions. It wigs me out to think that something as simple a mis-folded protein could cause death in a complex vertebrate organism. Tonight the weather in Austin is cloudy, 11 C, and is certainly nothing to write home about. Loving the prion papers, nothing like a good mystery to keep the mind engaged!


-Jarrett H.

Austin, TX

Kim writes:


Take this as my entry to the book contest, but I actually also have a topic you’d like to discuss.

You, and specifically Vincent, has frequently criticized the “luxury journals” such as Nature/Science/Cell, and I completely agree with all the criticism. In TWIV 426, which by the way has, once again, a hilarious title, Vincent spoke about the Cell Reports paper and it’s layout as being “not good” or “bad”. I completely agree with everything said in the episode regarding the small figure legends and a lot of figures in the supplementary. I, myself, actively avoid reading papers from these really compressed journals as it is so tough to read such papers. I prefer formats where the authors are given more space to write and explain, which makes the papers so much more comfortable to read.

However, in Vincent’s recent Zika Diary post “A Zika Paper” he explains once again why he doesn’t support these luxury journals, but also highlights the dilemma he’s in with knowing that the best way to further the careers of the people working in his lab is to try to publish in the highest impact journal as possible. Vincent ends the post with:

“My lab wants to publish their Zika virus paper in a high-impact journal, and I can’t deny them that wish. My job is to nurture their careers, not jeopardize them because I think that these journals are damaging science.”

My question to you, as a group, is: Whose responsibility is it to take this fight against this broken system of publishing and impact factor nonsense?

This Zika Diary post really made me depressed. Vincent, as one of the greatest advocates of bioRxiv, open-access, and non-luxury journals, is now not putting his money where his mouth is. I completely, and 100%, understand the dilemma written in the “A Zika Paper” post and understand Vincent’s decision to not jeopardize their careers, but at the same time isn’t this action a bit hypocritical?

I’d love for you to have a discussion on this, and for Vincent to maybe expand on his thinking, although I already completely understand his stance.

In addition, I’d also like to make a “pick of the week”. My pick would be TWiEVO number 7 “Pigeon Fashion Week”. If you want to hear Vincent being giddy about something, listen to this podcast. The science in the episode is amazing and the guest, Mike Shapiro, is great.

I’d probably rank TWiEVO 7 among the best episodes ever together with TWiM 51 “Cave Science with Hazel Barton”. Both episodes will surely give you new eyes regarding how you look at both caves and pigeons.

Best regards from a snowless crappy winter in Stockholm, where it is 0 celsius.

Richard DDS writes:

Check out “aeroMorph” from Tangible Media Group on Vimeo.

The video is available for your viewing pleasure at


I came across this project on the MIT Media Lab Webpage. You may have already seen it.

I continue to follow and recommend your podcasts.

Foggy this morning in LA…Bundle up, hope the snow is not as bad as was predicted for your region.

Best wishes,


Johnye writes:

Before spring’s warmth takes the beauty that can be found and made in winter’s frigid cold…

Gentle Folks,

There are perhaps two videos in this link from The Kid Should See This. One is about the invention of the Fahrenheit thermometer and the other about how the Celsius scale came about.

In a very early communication with TWiV Prof. R politely corrected my error when I referred to the temperature as something “centigrade”, stating it was so many degrees “Celsius” (how embarrassing!).

Best to all and stay appropriately dressed as our bipolar winter races away! Currently, it is an unseasonable 10 degrees Celsius in Boston.


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