A day of field guides at #UCDavis and @Wired

Well, how perfect is this.  Today Wired ran a follow up “Birds, Poop and Roadkill: A field guide to Field Guides” to an article that came out last week about my drive for a full field guide to the microbes.  Last weeks article was “Book of Germs: The Quest for a Field Guide to Microbes.”  It is by Daniela Hernandez and was a follow up on my talk at AAAS on “A Field Guide to the Microbes” which you can see on YouTube here.  I wrote a blog post with more detail on my obsession with field guides and microbes here.

While Daniela was writing the article I told her about how I collected field guides.  And I sent her a link to a private album I had made of me and my field guides which I am now making public:


For the follow up Daniela and a photographer from Wired Jon Snyder came to my office and lab and took some pictures of me and my field guides (with assistance from Russell Neches in my lab to help set up some of the “scenes).

Here are some pics from their visit.

And now today, the Wired article came out and and amazing coincidence happened.  I was taking a walk around campus with Misha Angrist who is giving a talk at UC Davis today.  And on the walk first we saw a collection of turkeys wandering around campus:

So my birding sense was turned up.  And then we walked across to the UC Davis Arboretum along Putah Creek and bumped into a “birding tour” of the Arboretum.  In six years here I have never seen one of these.  There were some teachers and kids carrying around field guides looking for particular species of birds.

And I note – one even had a field guide I do not have – the “Birds of Northern California” which I will be getting very very soon.  I think today will only serve to boost my obsession with field guides, but that is OK by me.

I note – I love the Wired photo spread of my field guides and my lab.  I particularly am happy that they includes some of the funnier field guides out there like “Flattened Fauna.” And I am glad they got in Betsy Dyer’s Field Guide to Bacteria because it is one of my favorite field guides of all time.  Thanks to Russell Neches for helping out with it and Daniela Hernandez and Jon Snyder for their work.

Genomics Education Bus

I just got back from the new version of the old GSAC meeting. It is now called GME or Genomes, Medicine and the Environment (or, as we like to call it – stuff Craig Venter is interested in these days). The meeting is organized by the Venter Institute and this year was one of the better versions of this meeting. There were some really interesting talks in a few topic areas (I will try and post some details about these later). But to me, the most interesting part was seeing the Venter genomics education bus (part of their Genomics Discovery program) on tour. They use this bus to go around to high schools and other places to do some genomics education.

Just before coming to the meeting, the bus apparently rolled into New Orleans (see Wired news story here). Lots of people like to complain about Venter and his style, but whatever you may think of him, I think this bus is a great idea. We desperately need more people who do science making an effort to interact with and educate people about scientific research. And since this bus is outfitten with lab equipment and various genome-related toys, it can go into a neighborhood without the best science labs and help introduce students to the fun and excitement of modern science.

Note – the photo was taken by me at the GME meeting in Hilton Head, SC. In the photo are Lisa McDonald, Jennifer Colvin, and (I think) Darryl Bronson.