Joyful Microbe

Justine Dees, PhD

All about the microbes we encounter in our daily lives (with or without realizing it). The Joyful Microbe podcast helps you see how bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea, and protozoa live everywhere around us and constantly impact our lives. Host Justine Dees, PhD talks to microbiology experts of all kinds to share the amazing variety of these fascinating microorganisms. Usually, we think of infections, but microbiology is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.

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Episodes

Safe Chicken Handling from Supermarket to Backyard: Dr. Andrea Etter
27-03-2024
Safe Chicken Handling from Supermarket to Backyard: Dr. Andrea Etter
While many microbes bring benefits, pathogens are the focus when ensuring food safety. This episode dives into practical tips for enjoying chicken, whether you buy chicken or eggs from the store or raise your own chickens for eggs in your backyard.Join food safety expert Dr. Andrea Etter as she shares insights into preventing foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria like Salmonella and Campylobacter. Dr. Etter is an assistant professor specializing in food microbiology and food safety at the University of Vermont. From her vast knowledge, you’ll learn how to prepare chicken at home safely and even keep your own backyard chickens.By understanding basic food safety practices, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones while not forgetting the many positive roles of microbes in our lives.Dr. Etter will equip you with strategies for safe chicken handling, from effective cooking techniques to proper backyard coop hygiene.Join us as we explore food safety. I hope this empowers you to make informed choices for safe chicken handling.Topics covered in this episode:Dr. Etter's background and path to food microbiologyFood safety from grocery shopping to meal consumptionCommon pathogens like Salmonella and Campylobacter in chickenSalmonella and Campylobacter risks and prevention strategiesHandling and food safety of raw store-bought chickenMicrobial risks of backyard chickens and tips for safe raising practicesJOYFUL MICROBE SHOW NOTES: https://joyfulmicrobe.com/chicken-safety-andrea-etter/JOYFUL MICROBE TWITTER: https://twitter.com/joyfulmicrobe/JOYFUL MICROBE INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/justineldees/SUPPORT JOYFUL MICROBE: https://ko-fi.com/joyfulmicrobe/
The Lab Coat Project: Dr. Derek Miller
11-09-2023
The Lab Coat Project: Dr. Derek Miller
Lab coats are an integral part of the world of microbiology, serving as a vital piece of personal protective equipment (PPE). When we envision a microbiologist at work wearing their crisp lab coat, we often associate it with professionalism and scientific rigor. However, the reality is that lab coats, while essential, don't always live up to expectations. For many scientists, they can be a source of frustration rather than confidence.This is why Dr. Derek Miller, founder of Genius Lab Gear, began The Lab Coat Project. Through this project, Derek aims to create lab coats that not only protect but empower scientists by addressing their unique challenges. Through extensive feedback from over 1,500 scientists, Derek designed lab coats for men and women that will work in various scientific environments, emphasizing comfort and functionality.In this episode of the Joyful Microbe podcast, Derek shares his vision for this innovative project, focusing on improving external challenges like productivity and safety while also addressing internal issues related to personal comfort and self-image. Our conversation offers insights into an often overlooked aspect of scientific research attire and highlights the potential impact of this initiative on scientists' lives.Topics covered in this episode:Why Derek started The Lab Coat ProjectWhat challenges do scientists face with lab coatsThe importance of lab coats and safetyWhat scientists want in a lab coat based on Derek’s survey of over 1,500 scientistsThe improved lab coat design from The Lab Coat ProjectJOYFUL MICROBE SHOW NOTES: https://joyfulmicrobe.com/lab-coat-project-derek-miller/JOYFUL MICROBE TWITTER: https://twitter.com/joyfulmicrobe/JOYFUL MICROBE INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/justineldees/SUPPORT JOYFUL MICROBE: https://ko-fi.com/joyfulmicrobe/
Teaching High School Microbiology with Passion and Purpose: Clara Marcelín
30-08-2023
Teaching High School Microbiology with Passion and Purpose: Clara Marcelín
Are you a science educator who wants to spark curiosity in your high school students with microbiology? In this world of information overload and digital distractions, capturing the attention of today's learners might seem like an uphill battle. That’s why, in this podcast episode, I chatted with Clara Marcelín, a seasoned high school science educator. She shares her methods for transforming microbiology education into an engaging and lifelong passion. Get ready to discover fresh strategies that bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and hands-on exploration, all while reshaping the way students view the captivating realm of microscopic life.We also discuss the exciting paradigm shift in how microorganisms are perceived and the importance of conveying the positive aspects of microbes, dispelling misconceptions, and helping students recognize the integral role microbes play in human health, nutrition, and well-being.Overall, Clara's approach to microbiology education champions hands-on experiences, personal connections, simplicity, and positive perceptions of microbes. Her insights are valuable for educators seeking to inspire curiosity, resilience, critical thinking, and a lasting passion for science among high school students.Topics covered in this episode:Clara’s path to science and science educationHow to engage science students in the classroomThe importance of connecting with studentsChallenges of teaching microbiologyAdvice on keeping it simpleAt-home microbiology activity: Making TepacheJOYFUL MICROBE SHOW NOTES: https://joyfulmicrobe.com/high-school-microbiology-clara/AT-HOME MICROBIOLOGY ACTIVITY: https://joyfulmicrobe.com/tepache/JOYFUL MICROBE TWITTER: https://twitter.com/joyfulmicrobe/JOYFUL MICROBE INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/justineldees/SUPPORT JOYFUL MICROBE: https://ko-fi.com/joyfulmicrobe/
What Really Makes Something Dirty: Dr. Sandra Wilks
30-06-2023
What Really Makes Something Dirty: Dr. Sandra Wilks
In a world where news articles claim that your water bottle has more bacteria than a toilet seat, it's natural to worry about microorganisms making you sick. However, it’s important to embrace the microbial world around us because they play crucial roles in our lives, and without them, we would be in bad shape. So, in this episode of the Joyful Microbe podcast, we’re covering how to appreciate microbes while maintaining a healthy respect for them.For this topic, I wanted to discuss these ideas with someone who understands them well, which brought me to Dr. Sandra Wilks. She is a researcher specializing in infection prevention and control, specifically focusing on the contamination of medical devices. Here, we discuss how to enjoy the microbial world around us without fear.With her vast knowledge and genuine enthusiasm, she shares her journey from childhood curiosity to a passion for microbiology. Sandra's fascination began with tools like magnifying glasses and a microscope, allowing her to discover unseen microorganisms on leaves, moss, and in pond water. She was captivated by the diverse communities of diatoms, amoebas, and other microscopic life forms. This curiosity grew during her time at the British Antarctic Survey, where she explored samples from icy seas and deepened her understanding of marine microbiology. She then went on to complete her PhD in marine microbiology.Over the years, Sandra's research expanded to include various aspects of microbiology, such as animal waste, sewage, drinking water, food, and everyday surfaces. Her current focus lies in studying the contamination of medical devices and the microbial environments in hospitals and beyond.Join us as we uncover misconceptions about what “dirty” actually means, appreciate the wonders of the microbial world, and learn to responsibly share our world with these invisible organisms that shape our lives, whether we realize it or not.Topics covered in this episode:Fear of microbes and perception of cleanlinessWhat is actually dirty?Balancing good hygiene practices with coexisting with microbesDifferences between cleanliness in medical and home settingsThe misleading nature of articles comparing the number of microbes on different surfacesNeed for risk assessment and understanding actual risks associated with microbesDefinitions of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfectingAdvice on which areas of the home to focus on for cleaningImportance of preserving good microbes and maintaining a healthy microbiomeBalancing cleaning products with exposure to beneficial microbes and environmental impactAt-home microbiology activity: Discovering the Microbial World: Create Your Own Agar PlatesJOYFUL MICROBE SHOW NOTES: https://joyfulmicrobe.com/sandra-wilks/AT-HOME MICROBIOLOGY ACTIVITY: Discovering the Microbial World: Create Your Own Agar PlatesJOYFUL MICROBE TWITTER: https://twitter.com/joyfulmicrobe/JOYFUL MICROBE INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/justineldees/SUPPORT JOYFUL MICROBE: https://ko-fi.com/joyfulmicrobe/
Algae in Nature and Biotechnology: Dr. Kyle Lauersen
30-05-2023
Algae in Nature and Biotechnology: Dr. Kyle Lauersen
In this episode, we dive into the captivating world of algae and biotechnology with Dr. Kyle Lauersen. He is an Assistant Professor at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia and leads a research group focusing on engineering algae for useful purposes.We cover everything from the basics of algae and their role in nature to their potential to drive sustainability. These tiny yet powerful organisms hold incredible secrets. Discover how metabolic engineering has turned algae into cellular factories, producing useful chemicals and cleaning wastewater. Join us as we explore the challenges and gaps in algae cultivation technology and learn how to observe algae under a microscope in an exciting at-home activity. Get ready to be inspired and amazed by the power of algae!Topics covered in this episode:The basics of algaeDiversity and exceptions within algaeThe roles of algae in natureThe algae studied by Kyle’s groupAlgae biotechnologyChallenges and gaps in algae cultivation technology and processingObserving algae under a microscopeAt-home microbiology activity: Algae Under the Lens: A Microscopic ExplorationJOYFUL MICROBE SHOW NOTES: https://joyfulmicrobe.com/algae-nature-biotechnology-kyle-lauersen/AT-HOME MICROBIOLOGY ACTIVITY: https://joyfulmicrobe.com/algae-microscope-activity/JOYFUL MICROBE TWITTER: https://twitter.com/joyfulmicrobe/JOYFUL MICROBE INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/justineldees/SUPPORT JOYFUL MICROBE: https://ko-fi.com/joyfulmicrobe/
Introducing Joyful Microbiology Activities
27-04-2023
Introducing Joyful Microbiology Activities
I'm thrilled to announce that in this podcast episode, I read the introduction chapter of my brand new ebook, Joyful Microbiology Activities. This book has been a labor of love, and I'm so excited to share it with you.Microbiology is a fascinating subject studying organisms that are often viewed negatively as “those gross and scary germs.” However, my goal with this ebook is to shift that perception and show you that microbes are incredibly important in our lives and can even bring joy! Through a collection of hands-on activities, I hope to inspire your curiosity, help you gain a deeper understanding of the microbial world around us, and allow you to have some fun with these tiny but mighty creatures.Whether you're a science teacher, a parent with curious kids, or simply someone who loves learning new things, there is something for everyone in this ebook. From exploring the microbes in our homes and living in our yards to investigating the microbial communities in soil, this book covers a wide range of topics that will spark your interest and expand your knowledge. These activities work for multiple ages and grade levels, with some very simple activities that are suitable for elementary students and others for middle and high school students.I’ve had people ask me if I’ll release a print version of it eventually, and my answer is maybe. For now, it makes the most sense to me to provide it as an ebook so that you can print out the pages for the single activity you plan to do. That way, you can also write your notes on the printed pages because I encourage documentation of your results in each activity.I'm truly passionate about sharing the joy of microbiology with others, and I hope that this book will inspire you to see the world of microbes in a new light. So sit back, relax, and join me as I read the introduction chapter of Joyful Microbiology Activities.GET THE EBOOK HERE: https://joyfulmicrobe.com/activities-book/JOYFUL MICROBE SHOW NOTES: https://joyfulmicrobe.com/introducing-joyful-microbiology-activities/JOYFUL MICROBE TWITTER: https://twitter.com/joyfulmicrobe/JOYFUL MICROBE INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/justineldees/SUPPORT JOYFUL MICROBE: https://ko-fi.com/joyfulmicrobe/
How To Nurture Your Skin Microbiome: Dr. Julie O’Sullivan
30-09-2022
How To Nurture Your Skin Microbiome: Dr. Julie O’Sullivan
A vast number of microbes live on our skin, in our gut, and almost everywhere else you can imagine on and in our bodies. Collectively, these microbes are called the human microbiome and play a crucial role in our health and well-being. Different locations on our bodies contain a specific set of microbes, which are individual microbiomes, i.e., the gut microbiome, skin microbiome, and oral microbiome. The skin microbiome is a relatively less researched microbiome on our bodies but is incredibly important for the health of this protective outer barrier.On the podcast, I talked to Dr. Julie O’Sullivan, a skin microbiome researcher at APC microbiome at the University of College Cork in Ireland, about how these microbes keep us healthy and how when they get out of balance can cause issues like eczema and acne. She also gives us some practical tips for maintaining a healthy skin microbiome and shares her thoughts on skin microbiome tests.Topics covered in this episode:What is the skin microbiome?How does the skin microbiome keep us healthy?How are microbes involved in eczema and acne?Gut-skin axisMicrobiome-friendly skincarePractical tips for maintaining a healthy skin microbiomeSkin microbiome testsAt-home microbiology activity: Hand washing and skin microbesJOYFUL MICROBE SHOW NOTES: https://joyfulmicrobe.com/skin-microbiome-julie-osullivan/JOYFUL MICROBE TWITTER: https://twitter.com/joyfulmicrobe/JOYFUL MICROBE INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/justineldees/SUPPORT JOYFUL MICROBE: https://ko-fi.com/joyfulmicrobe/
Micronovo’s Microbiology Books for Kids: Dr. Mike Manefield
25-03-2022
Micronovo’s Microbiology Books for Kids: Dr. Mike Manefield
How do you explain microbiology to a child? It’s an abstract topic since you can’t readily see microbes due to their size. So, to help your kids visualize microbes, you can read them a children’s book specifically about microbiology. I’ve featured a few excellent microbiology books for kids before on Joyful Microbe. But after I found out about Dr. Mike Manefield, a microbiologist who writes children’s microbiology books, I knew I needed to chat with him. He’s a full-time professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and writes these incredible books as a hobby. His publishing company is called Micronovo.His desire with these books is to communicate the complex stuff of microbiology and share it with his friends, family, especially his children, and the world so they can understand why the microbes are so cool.Grab one of these microbiology books written by a microbiologist to help your kids understand the importance of microbes in our world. Learning the concepts from these books will equip them early in life with a well-rounded view of the microbial world, seeing both the good and the bad, so they can make educated, science-based decisions as they grow.Topics covered In this episode:Micronovo: books about microbiology for childrenThe microbial stars of the booksA summary of three Micronovo booksAt-home microbiology activity: biodegradationJOYFUL MICROBE SHOW NOTES: https://joyfulmicrobe.com/kids-microbiology-books-mike-manefield/JOYFUL MICROBE TWITTER: https://twitter.com/joyfulmicrobe/JOYFUL MICROBE INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/justineldees/SUPPORT JOYFUL MICROBE: https://ko-fi.com/joyfulmicrobe/