Kayla writes:

Dear Microbe-crew,

It is currently 9 degrees C in Cheongju in South Korea.

I have been listening to Twim for over 2 years now.

I am from Cork in Ireland, I graduated from University college cork a little over 2 years ago with a Microbiology degree and started working in a lab in Cork.  

Last month I decided to pack up and move to South Korea for a year as an English teacher to explore the world a little.

Your podcasts have been keeping me in touch with the microbe world while I have been over here. They have even inspired me to attempt to start up a podcast of my own with a Biologist who is also working over here as an English teacher.

One of the most Important things your podcast has taught me is that a scientist can also be political. I find myself paying more attention to political affairs and thinking what can I do?

I just wanted to email in to say keep up the fantastic work, education is the most powerful tool on this earth and the twix podcasts are a wonderful resource of education.

Kind Regards,


Yousef writes:

Dear Microbial explorers,

I’m writing this letter to thank you for your inquisitive podcasts and to let you know just how much they can make an impact. Let me briefly tell you about my story so far. During my teens, I was not an ideal student as I’d constantly skip school in favour of video games and skateboarding. I was far from an A grade student constantly balancing on the edge of failure. Near the end of college (UK College), I had already failed biology and on a trajectory for unimpressive grades that wouldn’t see me to University. About 6 months before finals my grandfather gave me a book he said was “fascinating but a load of garbage near the end”, the book was Bill Bryson’s Short history of nearly everything. Having no particular interest in books I unamusingly gave the first page a quick glance, I was hooked! I spent the next few days entranced by the storytelling of science, from the big bang to, my favourite part apparently “garbage”, evolution and the origin of life. Bill Bryson had single-handedly both ignited my fascination for science and given me a goal to pursue, to become a scientist.

The results of my finals did not complement my new found drive. All my University applications were rejected. After hours calling various Universities, I was finally accepted onto a science foundation course at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. After completion of the access course, I finally entered university, the first of my family to do so, and began the study of biomedical science. Through the years I learnt much about the human body and the onset of diseases but began to become uninterested in the human centric field, that is until the microbes came along. My lectures involving infectious diseases were illuminating and incredibly thought-provoking. After successfully completing my Bachelor’s degree I moved to London eventually working as a College science technician to not only fund my master’s degree, setting me one step closer to my research dream, but also inspire the children of today to become the scientists of tomorrow. After a year of glorified babysitting, I was eventually accepted onto a masters degree in microbiology and infection at the University of Birmingham.

Even though I was financially destroyed (Education is damn expensive!) and living back with my mother, my time in Birmingham opened my eyes and profoundly changed my perception of microbes and life on this planet. I became entranced with host-microbe interactions specifically endosymbionts which led me to read Lynn Margules’s beautiful book Microcosmos and also John Maynards Smiths and Eorz Szathmary’s Major transitions in evolution (Still perplexes me today but it’s nice to pretend I understand). This newfound passion for endosymbionts led me into a research project involving the fungal endosymbiont Burkholderia rhizoxinica and its possible involvement in disease progression. After completing my masters I eventually moved to Bristol with endosymbionts constantly on my mind. Whilst working as a barista in a cafe I would spend my free time wandering the forests imagining the microbial diversity around me, listening to your podcasts and applying for PhD’s.

After being invited for a PhD interview to study the transcriptomic response of Wolbachia I immediately searched through your episodes to better prepare myself and found one related, TWiP 34: Up against the Wolbachia. Within the podcast, you discussed Wolbachia in the control of malaria and filariasis and analyzed the paper entitled “Targeting the Wolbachia cell division protein FtsZ as a new approach for anti-filarial therapy”, let’s just say that that podcast might have been one of the biggest turning points in my life so far. I’m now 4 months into my PhD and will be flying over the Atlantic to spend the remainder of my studies at New England Biolabs under the supervision of Dr Zhiru Li and Dr Clotilde K. Carlow, the very same authors whose paper you discussed!

I am incredibly excited for the future and very lucky to be pursuing a meaningful career with a subject I find so incredibly fascinating, for this, I have to thank Bill Bryson, all of you at TWiM and my grandfather who has since passed away. Just goes to show, bad grades aren’t a dead end if you find what ignites your curiosity.

Your most thankful subscriber

Anthony writes:



at around 29:29, does Dr. Schmidt say “… run it through a fax machine …”?

I like to believe that my brain’s not gone dull.  Hopefully that is so, but in any case I’m well aware that neither my eyes nor ears function as well as they once did.  If indeed  Dr. Schmidt did say what he should have said, what should I be hearing?

[vr: I wrote to Anthony that the word is FACS, fluorescence activated cell sorting, and he responded:]

Thank you!  I replayed that segment maybe six times trying to figure it out.