Ah, a good-natured rant

One of the sources of my daily metaphorical firehose of information that I try to take in is the RSS feed for the blogs at Scienceblogs.

One of the sources of my nearly-daily metaphorical itchy rash of irritation that I encounter along my studies is the fact that as far as most people are concerned (including, most importantly, the people responsible for the required “Microbiology” degree curriculum), “Microbiology” is essentially the study of diseases.

These two collided today when a professor of Epidemiology who is a blogger on Scienceblogs posted offering “Everything you want to know about Microbiology and Epidemiology[…]”. A perfectly reasonable post (downright laudable, actually – it’s part of an effort by several of the bloggers there to be try to get posts going offering explanations of basic concepts in their respective fields). Nonetheless, I couldn’t resist mentioning that what I wanted to know was what it would take to get people to quit assuming microbiology was about diseases (while acknowledging that an epidemiologist was probably not the most sympathetic person to ask…). Hopefully the mini-rant came across in as good-natured a manner as I’d intended.

Those bored enough to care can read it here (the main post is here).

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The Author is (currently) an autodidactic student of Industrial and Environmental microbiology, who is sick of people assuming all microbiology should be medical in nature, and who would really like to be allowed to go to graduate school one of these days now that he's finished his BS in Microbiology (with a bonus AS in Chemistry). He also enjoys exploring the Big Room (the one with the really high blue ceiling and big light that tracks from one side to the other every day) and looking at its contents from unusual mental angles.

2 thoughts on “Ah, a good-natured rant”

  1. 🙂 I definitely wasn’t offended. I also am very interested in microbial ecology, but for a large part, I don’t know enough about many of the issues to write much that’s very informative. *However*, even infectious disease people are waking up to the importance of studies of the ecology of microbes, as more studies move toward looking at disease (well, and health!) as a polymicrobial instead of mono-microbial phenomenon.

  2. That’s okay, I still don’t know too much about epidemiology or pathogenic microbiology – AND I don’t know as much as I think I ought to about microbial ecology at the moment, either. I’m getting there, though.

    There are some overlaps – while I’m not too interested in studying – what’s the proper term, “primary pathogens”? – my interests do overlap into some health-related areas. “Probiotic” microbes (or more formally, the ‘normal flora’ of a healthy human body) are one example which overlaps into my interest in food microbiology.

    Maybe I should clarify that – I mean intentional food microbiology: yogurt, salami, bread, and so forth.

    I keep meaning to dig up the recent papers regarding the firmicute/bacteroidetes ratio of obese and non-obese subjects and try to find out if the bacteroidetes show up in food fermentation processes anywhere.

    I’ve also got some interest in bioremediation of metal wastes and similar processes, so there is a bit of “public health” in the mix.

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