Gram Negative Clay

Title: Gram Positive Clay

Artist: Michael Kaden-Hoffmann

Media: Polymer Clay

Scientific Concept: One major way the bacteria are categorizes is by how they react to a gram stain. The two categories resulting from a gram stain are pink gram-negative bacteria and purple gram-positive bacteria. The reason for this color difference is difference in the make up and thickness of the cell wall of the bacteria. Gram-positive bacteria have a thick layer of peptidoglycan that surrounds the cell membrane and traps the purple, crystal violet stain in the cell. Gram negatives have lipopolysaccharide layer and a much smaller peptidoglycan layer surrounding the cell membrane and thus the crystal violet stain is washed out and only shows the pink safranin stain remains.

Artist Concept: I want to create a piece that showed what a gram-positive bacteria looks like up close as that was the type of bacteria that I had for my term project. So to do this, I made half a coccus gram-positive cell out of clay. In the middle I made the cytoplasm purple to show the stain. In the cytoplasm I included ribosomes, a plasmid, and supercoiled circular DNA. Surrounding the cytoplasm I made the lipid bilayer with membrane proteins. Around the bilayer I made the thick peptidoglycan layer with teichoic acid that gives it its negative charge as well as a few proteins. In a normal cell there is some space between the cell membrane and the peptidoglycan layer, however I was not able to incorporate that. Other then that and the size the only other inconsistence with real bacteria is that my peptidoglycan layer is thinner then the real one, and the reason for this was that I ran out of clay. Banana (made by nature) for scale.

Gram Skein Cheater’s Gloves

Hello all! This art project comes to you from Chaya, the person who sits in the front row and knits during lectures. As you may have guessed, I knit something for my art project, and you’ll find pictures and my artist’s statement on my Ravelry project page. The artist’s statement will be towards the bottom of the page, and you can click the pictures to make them bigger.


Art Project: Comics



Starring cats Toni and Buttercup

For my art project I created a comic with photography. My cats participated as the actors in the story. The story was inspired by my isolate project in this class, in which swabbed my cats mouths.

The microbiological concepts that I have focused on are pathogen/host interactions and antibiotic resistance.

Hosts have evolved incredible mechanisms to evade pathogens including the complement system, which leads to the opsonization of bacteria. Although this concept is intuitive (host evades pathogen), there are many complex and detailed mechanisms involved that constitute our immune system.

When the orange cat hears the word “pathogen’ she immediately assumes that a disease outbreak is going on. However, mechanisms in the feline immune system keep these pathogens from causing disease. Antibiotic resistance is also a natural process, but it can be accelerated by overuse of antibiotics by humans.

Art Project: Genomic Dreams

Title: Genomic Dreams

Type of Art: Dream Catcher

When we first looked at the prokaryotic chromosome and super coiling, the first thing that I thought about is how it looked like a dream catcher. With the loops in the super-coiled DNA and the circle of proteins on the inside connecting the loops, it looks just like one.   So I decided to make a modified dream catcher based on it, and I think it turned out well. I used thread, crochet thread, beads and a metal ring to make it. The red string represents the DNA and the beads represent the proteins that connect the loops in the DNA. The white thread is the modification; instead of being loops on the outside it crosses the loop to allow the DNA coils to exist. If I could have I would have made the red string tighter, but the crochet string and the thread make keeping it taught very hard to impossible.

A2: Why are there glowing beaches around the world?

Title: 6 Incredible places where the oceans glow

Source: Mother Nature Network (

Article date: July 14, 2016

Summary: This article talks about the glowing beaches that have been seen around the world and the science behind why they are glowing. There are phytoplankton in the sea that respond to electrical signals by emitting a blue glow when moved or disturbed making the beach look like its filled with stars.

Connections: In class we have discussed that microbes are everywhere, that they can have good (medications) and bad (diseases) effects and that they are beautiful. Well this article certainly focuses on the beauty that microbes are responsible for. To more specifically name a topic that has been covered in class, this article really relates to the physiology of a cell. The physiological reason for why the phytoplankton glow is because there is a reaction called luciferin-luciferase and it occurs in organelles called scintillen. Thousands of these organelles are what causes the bioluminescence. Phytoplankton without scintillen do not have the bioluminescent effect.

Critical analysis: This article was interesting and caught my attention because there were these beautiful beaches that had blue waves that seemed to be glowing and I was curious as to why/what made this happen. I learned that the scientific name for the specific type of phytoplanktin is Noctiluca scintillan. Noctiluca scintillan is responsible for what makes the beaches look like they are glowing. Noctiluca scintillan is a single celled protist who’s cytoplasm glows when disturbed. As far as scientific accuracy goes there has been some disagreement as to whether or not the glowing organism is phytoplankton or ostarcod crustaceans. The Huffington Post wrote an article that quoted a Cornell professor who argued that the organisms are actually ostarcod crustaceans but are commonly mistaken for phytoplankton. Other articles that I found credited phytoplankton for the glow in the waves. So it seems that article is scientifically accurate, there is just some argument between scientists as to what organism is actually responsible for the glow.

Question: While reading this article a question popped into my mind. Why do these organisms only sometimes show themselves? What makes them sometimes glow and sometimes not and what is the determining factor there? I know that they probably are only seen in certain places (that all seem to have warm climates) because that is most likely their ideal environment. But the article says that some  times they show up while other times they don’t. Which makes me wonder what causes this to happen.

A2: Microbes in the News Assignment

Microbes in the News !

Over the course of the semester, post 3 different stories involving microbes  from the popular media and then read and comment on 3  posts by other students.


Points: Total possible = 30 points. Earn up to 8 pts for making a post and 2 points for posting a comment. Create 3 posts and 3 comments over the course of the semester.

Deadline: All posts and comments must be made by April 24 to receive credit.


Learning Objectives:

– Increase your awareness of microbiology and its role in society

– Expand and apply your knowledge of microbiology

– Practice critical thinking by analyzing popular news media for scientific accuracy

– Develop questions about microbiology

– Help your peers and yourself understand microbiology by answering their questions



Over the course of the semester, create 3 separate Microbes in the News posts on the course website, and then read and comment on 3 Microbes in the News posts by other students. Be sure to follow the guidelines below in order to qualify for  full credit.


Guidelines for creating a post:

Article and link: Enter the title, source, and date of the article and create a link to it. Articles should be from any popular media source (newspaper, magazine, podcast, blog,  etc.) that others can access without hitting a paywall. Any relevant story is acceptable, but challenge yourself to find stories that are current (~within the last 3 months) and that haven’t yet been posted by your peers, whenever possible.

Summary: Write a short summary of the story (just a few sentences is sufficient).

Connections: Explain briefly how this connects to what we’ve covered in class.

Critical analysis: Explain what you found interesting about this story, and what (if anything) you learned. Comment on whether you think the story was scientifically accurate or not. If you noticed any factual inaccuracies or aspects of the story that might inadvertently confuse or misinform readers, identify those and provide a more accurate explanation. Also comment on how this was written. Do you think it did a good job of communicating science to the public? Why or why not?

Question: Write a question about microbiology that you had as a result of reading this story.

Categorize: Categorize your post as “A2: Microbes in the News’ using the categories menu on the right. This will ensure I can find it and give you credit.

Tag: Tag your post based on any relevant microbiological themes by choosing from the tag menu (below categories on the right). Use existing tags when possible, but you can add new ones if needed by clicking “+Add New Category’ link just below the list of tags. This will help us find stories on relevant themes. You can also use these tags to search for other students’ stories on themes that interest you.

Guidelines for commenting on a post:

– Read the news story and the students’ post about it

– Create a comment and write a response to their critical analysis. Do you agree, disagree, or have more to add?

– In your comment, answer their question to the best of your ability. This might require some independent research.