Art Project

I designed this fabric on my computer and uploaded it to a website to have it custom printed. Microbes were the inspiration for the design. I was inspired by green algae cells and how different and complex they can be. Using the fabric, I created pillows that mimic the shape of some green algae cells. They are connected by Velcro in emulate the shape and design of green algae cells in chains.

“Life” on Saturn


Summary: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has picked up traces of hydrogen plumes on the surface of one of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, indicating chemical reactions between warm water and rocks on the floor of a liquid ocean. This could potentially indicated the presence of life, but not as we know it. It took Cassini 20 years to reach Enceladus and make his discovery, and now it will continue to drift past Saturn until it is eventually destroyed in Saturn’s rings in September of this year.

Connection: This article is based on a lot of the same ideas we discussed during Eric Collins’ lecture about Astrobiology.

Critical Analysis:  The possibility of life existing on other planets is very high, but there is a lot of question about whether or not we would be able to identify that life as life as we know it. Life not as we know it would be much harder to identify simply because of that fact that we would not be as able to easily identify it as “life”. There was an extremely high cost associated with this discovery and the amazing piece of technology used to make this discovery will now just be destroyed in space having completed its purpose.

Question: What is life not as we know it? What is a good definition of life? How can we expand out definition of life to accommodate lifestyles that we have not yet seen? Will we ever be able to find other lifeforms and classify them as being alive if we don’t yet understand what other forms of life might  be? Is the cost of advanced piece of machinery and spacecrafts worth the results?

Fountain of poop?


Summary: Turquoise Killfish (Nothobranchius furzeri)  have one of the shortest lifespans on vertebrates on earth, reaching sexual maturity at just 3 weeks old and dying within a matter of months. It was found that old Killfish that consumed feces from a younger Killfish would live up to 45% longer than expected because of the microbes in the younger fish’s feces.

Connections:  In class, we talked about fecal transplantation in humans  as a way to treat diseases and disorders. This is a very similar concept. The older fish are receiving microbes from the younger fish’s feces to extend their lifespan.

Critical analysis:  I found this article very interesting because of the application of human fecal transplantation. It is a very similar process, but is occurring naturally in these fish populations. I would like to know more about the specific processes and microbes involved and how that would, in fact, increase the lifespan of the fish. The article does not go into much detail in that respect.

Question:  Could something similar to this occur in humans? Would you consider a fecal transplant to extend your life? What are the specific microbes involved in this process and how do that actually extend lifespan


Painting with Microbes

These are my three paintings with microbes. The first is a mountain scene on TSA, the second is a sea shell on EMB, and the third is a sea anemone on MAC. The red color on the  S. marcescens, which is what the mountains and the “reflection” of the mountains is made of. I also attempted to add some into the sky to represent the aurora, but it did not grow in the presence of the other bacteria there.  

Microbes, a Love Story

Article Link:

Summary: Microbes keep us sexy. Because there are so many microbes in the world that are dangerous to humans, we tend not to focus on the one that keep us healthy or even the ones that could keep us sexy. According to this article by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, sharing microbes through kissing (like you mean it), spending time with close friends, and caring for infants, we self-vaccinate by trading microbes with people who have different microbes inside of them then we do. According to this classic Swiss study, microbes can also give us a “healthy glow” or a “sexy” smell that can attract people with opposite immune system genes. This article also references a study with mice where some mice where give a probiotic that made them more attractive to mice of the other sex and made female mice more fertile. Trading microbes with other people can help keep is more healthy overall and help produce healthier offspring.

Connections:  We have discussed useful microbes in class, specifically microbes that are in our guts. This article goes into more detail about how the microbes that are already inside us can be beneficial.

Critical Analysis: I found this article as a whole extremely interesting. I think it is especially interesting that animals such as young elephants and naked mole rats actively try to acquire microbes from their parents. Young elephants eat the feces of their mother to acquire microbes necessary for digestion and makes mole rats babies beg their parents for their anal excretions. That is both extremely gross and super cool. The prospect of probiotics that could make you more attractive or fertile is through-provoking.

Question: If a “super probiotic” that could make you more attractive could exist or was created for human use, would you take it? Why or why not?

Assignment 1: Introduce yourself

Hey! Im Karen Biondich and I am in my third year at UAF. My major is Biology with a concentration in Physiology. My plan has always been to go to vet school, but since starting college I have discovered a passion for the human body and how it works, so I have no idea what my future will hold.  I love skiing and Netflix and I rode a horse for the first time this past summer.