My trip to Austin last week provided a great opportunity to collect bacteria. I've been interested in the microbiome for a while, and since my Synthetic Aesthetics residency in 2010 I've been especially interested in the bacteria on skin and in cheese. The continuation of the project is up online now at, where we're displaying the bacteria collected from 71 people at SXSW (a feat that would have been impossible without the help of Austin-based science communicators Lindsay Patterson and Joe Hanson--thanks!!!).

Swabbing photos by Patrick Boyle

The donations came from many different body parts, giving us the opportunity to look at differences not only between different people but between different regions of the body. Some of the most attractive and diverse plates come from toe swabs:

I'm still analyzing and organizing the data, but right now you can see all the plates sorted by body part of origin here. This is a work in progress, so let me know in the comments what you'd like to know more about as I dig deeper into the samples!