Anthony writes:

Disneyland shuts down cooling towers over Legionnaires’ cases

Baily writes:

Hi TWiM,

I have listened to your podcast for over 2 years now but haven’t felt the need to write in until now. Having heard the great advice you’ve given to past listeners, I now found myself in need of your help. First, here is some background info on me. I’m currently an undergraduate at Penn State, majoring in Biotechnology with a minor in Chemistry. My choice of biotechnology is reflective of my preference to develop new processes derived from biological systems, over the purely inquisitive study of said systems. That is to say, I would like to do stuff with what we learn from microbes rather than just learn about them. I’ve been told by many that I will need to pursue grad school after I get my bachelors this December, if I am to ever become an attractive candidate for potential employers. This is where my dilemma arises.

On one hand, the opportunity of grad school presents a new and exciting range of biological fields to branch out from. On the other, I am conflicted on which field to pursue and fearful my choice will pigeonhole me for the rest of my life. For example, biomedical engineering promises an exciting job developing biotech systems but demands an engineering background I fear I lack. Bioinformatics and pharmacogenomics would allow me to capitalize on my programming skills but would force me to abandon the hands-on wet lab work I thoroughly enjoy. Pursuing a masters in biotechnology seems obvious given my major but the program seems so limited in scope now given my newfound options.

I feel like this is my last chance to choose a path, which in turn will define the rest of my career and by extension life. I feel trapped and don’t know where to turn for advice besides you four. Maybe you can help me, maybe you can’t… I understand it’s not a lot to go off on. Maybe just typing this out helps. Regardless, thanks for reading and thanks for the great content.



P.S if you are giving out free books still I’d love one

TL;DR can’t decide on what graduate program to pursue :/

Adam writes:

I’m a sophomore in high school. Though I have been fascinated by microorganisms for several years now, I have only been subscribed to TWiM for a few months. I have future aspirations of being a microbiologist, but for now, I look up as much as I can about microbes. Your show discusses microbial functions in depth, describing cells and proteins and chemicals and molecules I’ve never heard of and can barely pronounce, and I don’t know what the heck you guys are talking about half the time, but I learn a little bit more every episode. This became evident to me while watching episode four of Star Trek: Discovery with my family. When the skeletal structure of the captain’s very large, unknown creature named “Ripper” is shown, I without even thinking said “Tardigrade.” A few seconds later, one of the characters said it was comparable to the “tardigrade of Earth, a microorganism.” Later in that episode, it’s revealed that the giant tardigrade is sensitive to what the trans-warp spores are doing. I again without thinking said “Chemocommunication.” I don’t think that’s a real word, but it suited my purposes. Later in the episode, it was revealed that that was exactly what was happening between the giant tardigrade and the trans-warp spores. I know these are probably the ramblings of sweaty high school nerd and this might not ever get read, but my point is, thank you. Thank you for cultivating my knowledge in microbiology and teaching me more than I ever realized.