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Viruses and virulence with a side of GMOs: Podcasts I’ve been on recently

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Lab work can often be a bit tedious. I often make the joke (not entirely innacurate) that my entire job is moving very small amounts of liquid between different tubes in a controlled manner. In order to combat this tedium, I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts of various sorts, from short shows about design, history or politics to NPR shows like Marketplace and This American Life, to shows about gadgets and technology. I probably listen to about 30 hours of podcasts every week, so it’s a bit thrilling when I’m invited to be part of a podcast rather than just being a listener.

Ebola virus - my candidate for "most awful virus" to be infected with. Thankfully, it's kinda bad at being a human pathogen.

Recently, chemistry grad student Chad Jones started a new podcast associated with his blog, The Collapsed Wavefunction, and invited me on as a guest for the first episode to talk about genetically modified crops. He’s admitted that this was a naked publicity ploy to get retweeted by Bora, since I had just written a guest post for the SciAm guest blog about allergens and GMOs, but it worked, and it was a lot of fun. This week, I was on again (the first repeat guest!), this time talking about viruses. That one is less food-related, but I did manage to get in a few shout-outs to food-borne infections and infectious diarrhea, so it was well worth it. Have a listen to the “distinctly percussive” waveform that is my voice, as I talk about viruses that infect other viruses, food-borne pathogens, rabies, hemhoragic fever viruses and more. As a bonus, I also get to school a couple of chemists about chemistry analogies and revel in my own pretention as I use the word “deleterious.”

I should point out that me using this platform to talk about the podcast feeds right into Chad’s promotional strategy, but I’m going to do it anyway as a ploy to continue to be invited back. It’s a win-win!

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On a related note, one of my other favorite podcasts, This Week in Virology, read and responded to a comment of mine on air this week. This podcast is a bit more wonky than most, but the episode I commented on is here, and my comment is here.

Kevin Bonham About the Author: Kevin Bonham is a Curriculum Fellow in the Microbiology and Immunobiology department at Harvard Medical school. He received his PhD from Harvard, where he studied how the cells of the immune system detect the presence of infectious microbes. Find him on Google+, Reddit. Follow on Twitter @Kevbonham.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.






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