Bob writes:

Today I read a somewhat confusing news story on CNN:

“New dengue vaccine shows promise”

It would interesting to hear a podcast bearing on this CNN news article.

Great work, TWIVers. Always interesting to listen.


Danny writes:

Hey TWiV,

I wanted to surface this and see if maybe there’s a way we could get a shout out! Experiment is a crowdfunding community and platform for science (450 projects funded, 50k users, $6M in research funded). Last month was our biggest month yet.

We quickly spun up a new initiative around Zika Virus, since traditional funding for new projects will take months to be deployed (cough cough ebola). We hand-picked and peer-reviewed 13 projects to launch campaigns for Zika experiments, and the one that ends with the most backers will receive an additional $10k sponsored by tech investor Ligaya Tichy.

It’s a small initiative, but the projects are pretty unique. Ideas include:

– bioengineered algae that will express protein to kill mosquito algae

– rapid RNA field test for mosquitos

– surveying impact on reproductive decision-making women (in both U.S. & Brazil)

– high throughput screening using yeast

– modifying pesticide odorant receptor genes

In one week, we’ve generated 14,688 pageviews, $17k+ pledged, 404 backers, and 1 project funded.

These projects are all picking up press in Brazil, and many of the individual backers are coming from Brazil too.

Also, Experiment was recently on the This Week in Startups video podcast.

Would love to connect, and if there’s anyway TWiV might help spread the word, we’d greatly appreciate it! Happy to connect with the project investigators for interviews/quotes too.

Carly writes:

Dear Vincent,

May you please share the below announcement for the 17th Annual Microbiology Student Symposium on May 6, 2016 at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, CA with your audience at TWiV, TWiP, and TWiM? Thanks so much! I’m big fan and I wish I could’ve attended the MSS when you were a keynote. I was inspired by your interview with Michelle Banks to include microbiology art this year.

Here is the announcement:

The Microbiology Student Group at UC Berkeley invites you to join us for the 17th Annual Microbiology Student Symposium (MSS) on Friday, May 6, 2016 at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. This year, our keynote speakers are Victoria Orphan from Caltech and Micheal Laub from MIT.

The MSS provides a forum for students researching all topics in microbiology to present their research to an engaged group of students, scientists, and members of the general public interested in microbiology. In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to present their microbiology-inspired art and engage in open dialog about how microbiology and creative pursuits can positively influence each other during the reception.

Please register now to attend the MSS and submit your abstract for talks/poster presentations and/or microbial art. Prizes will be awarded for the best posters, talk, and art! Please visit our website ( and contact us at if you have any questions!

Mariko writes:

Hi TWiVions,

I just finished listening to episode 380 and wanted to say, “thank you!” for talking about a plant virus! I am a graduate student studying plant viruses in the family Luteoviridae at Cornell University, where it is grey and 37F/3C this morning. TWiV helps me keep up with the latest in animal virology, and motivates me through endless virus purifications.

I’m sure you got lots of other emails from plant virologists saying “we’re here!” but I just wanted to add my virtual voice to the crowd. I hope we’ll get to hear about some more plant-related papers soon!  Thanks for everything you do!


Paul writes:

Dear TWIV team,

I have been listening to TWIV for quite some time now and finally decided to send you my 2 cents worth….

I would just like to comment on your discussion regarding viruses with multipartite genomes (you were talking about cowpea mosaic virus).  There are a number of examples of fungal viruses (mycoviruses) that package the different segments of their genomic RNAs into multiple capsids (e.g. partitiviruses (bipartite) and chrysovirus (tetrapartite)).  This would most likely be an adaptation due to their intracellular transmission by anastomosis (fusion of fungal hyphae), which would ensure that all individually encapsidated genome segments are transmitted to a new host cell.  In the majority of cases mycoviruses do not appear to “run the gauntlet” of extracellular transmission.

I have worked on the viruses of fungi while I was a postdoc with Sara Sawyer.  In particular we have been looking at viruses that chronically infect Saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewers yeast) and their antagonistic relationship with host pathways of RNA metabolism (watch this space for future articles). I find it unfortunate that many of yeast biologists do not realize that most laboratory strains of S. cerevisiae are infected by (sometimes multiple) mycoviruses.  I have found that leveraging the genetics of yeasts to do virology is a truly powerful combination and I hope to build on this model system in my new lab at the University of Idaho.

Previously, I believe that you have only briefly mentioned mycoviruses on TWIV, but would love to hear you talk more about these fascinating viruses and introduce them to the TWIV audience.  In TWIV 220 you did mention that you would try and persuade Donald Nuss to come and talk on TWIV – his work on hypoviruses and their impact on fungal disease is truly remarkable and would make for an amazing episode.  

Please keep up the inspiring work,

WEATHER: A toasty 47F with scattered cloud here in Moscow (Idaho), which is great considering the snow we have had in the last few days.


Paul A. Rowley

Assistant Professor

Department of Biological Sciences,

The University of Idaho

Ed writes:

Hello Doctors TWiV!

I have enjoyed listening to all of the TWiX podcasts, and it has given me considerable pleasure during my long commute to and from work every day! I was first introduced to TWiM by my Microbiology lecturer at the University of Leicester (England), and now have moved to all the TWiX podcasts! The team’s lamenting about the lack of science knowledge to the general public has even inspired me and a friend to start our own microbiology blog! With both of us being recent graduates from a Microbiology degree, we have a decent amount of background knowledge, but shows like TWiX have allowed us to further our knowledge, allowing us to spread the good word of science around!

I have slowly been working my way through the back catalogue of TWiV, and have come upon episode 278 – flushing HIV down the zinc (love the title by the way!), and found the idea of mutating CCR5 receptors fascinating – enough to want to write about it on our fledgling  blog.

I was just wondering if the team was aware of any further studies carried out by these authors or anyone else, using this idea and attempting to further the idea, or whether it is likely to just be another dead end treatment like so many we have heard of?

Thanks again for the entertainment and fount of knowledge that is the TWiX podcasts, keep up the good work!


Anthony writes:


The world communications net, the all-involving linkage of electric circuitry, will grow and become more sensitive. It will also develop new modes of feedback so that communication can become dialogue instead of monologue. It will breach the wall between “in” and “out” of school. It will join all people everywhere. When this has happened, we may at last realize that our place of learning is the world itself, the entire planet we live on. The little red schoolhouse is already well on its way toward becoming the little round schoolhouse.

Someday, all of us will spend our lives in our own school, the world. And education –in the sense of learning to love, to grow, to change– can become not the woeful preparation for some job that makes us less than we could be but the very essence, the joyful whole of existence itself”.

# # #

BTW, Carl Zimmer mentioned on TWiV Craigslist extracting the tiger from the newspapers’ tank.  Here’s what McLuhan wrote in ’64:

“The classified ads (and stock-market quotations) are the bedrock of

the press. Should an alternative source of easy access to such

diverse daily information be found, the press will fold.”

Marshall McLuhan

Understanding Media


Richard writes:

Ken writes:

Dear TWiV Swarm (I prefer that to plaque),

Great show with Carl Zimmer!  Pity that you did not get to talk about “Planet of Viruses” which is an excellent (and quite short) read for both virologists and non-virologists.

Based on that episode, I have a bit of a shameless and somewhat self-serving pick from the Golden Mole Award for Accidental Brilliance that was sponsored by NPR.  Our research was featured in the top 12 ( and even made the top 5, video at (  The winner is from the University of Michigan (that should please Kathy), but the whole process is a nice example of how serendipity works in a whole bunch of different areas of science.

On the “flip side” the announcement of the winner was supposed to be broadcast during Morning Edition on NPR on March 1, but in many broadcast areas (including mine) it was superseded by coverage of the “Super Tuesday” presidential primaries, so most people only got to see/hear it online.  I think that speaks to the “newsworthiness” of science, unfortunately.

Keep up the amazing work, you are all inspirational!


  1. I just got a 3D – printed model of my favorite virus:

Jim writes:

Pavel Grinfeld of Drexel University offers an introductory course on linear algebra:

The above link is the first of three parts of over 200 lectures.

These lectures are exceptional and fun.  He is an excellent teacher and a careful presenter. Most lectures are in digestible size of about 5 minutes.

If you have any interest in the handling of big data or if you have had a course in linear algebra and did not enjoy it, this is a good course to look at.