Five Quick Tips for More Effective Public Speaking

This post originally appeared at on May 10th, 2013.

One of the major aspects of academia is sharing your research throughpublic presentations. While public speaking can be stressful, it is a great opportunity to communicate your research and ideas to a wider audience and can be quite satisfying.  No matter what kind of subject matter you are covering, there are a few simple hacks that you can use to improve you public speaking abilities. Continue reading Five Quick Tips for More Effective Public Speaking


A newly discovered means for controlling viral infection

This image shows a 0.1 x 0.03 inch (2.5 x 0.8 ...
A  small Drosophila melanogaster fly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first moment a virus infects a cell it has to deal with multiple cellular defenses. From surviving highly acidic conditions in endosomes  to evading the host enzymes that can digest its very genetic code, an invading virus must navigate and eventually subvert the functions of a host cell. This intricate molecular dance has played out time and again for millions of years and modern science is just beginning to understand and appreciate the intricacy of these steps.

A recent paper published in Nature Immunology suggests that there may be even more steps in the virus-host dance than we had imagined. Outside of science fiction, I would have dismissed this mechanism until I read the paper  “RNA-mediated interference and reverst transcription control the persistence of RNA viruses in the insect model Drosophila” by Goic and others (1).

Keep reading to find out more about this new exciting mechanism of viral defense. Continue reading A newly discovered means for controlling viral infection

Surviving the Comprehensive Oral Exam

Matura (oral part) - during exam.
You may be asked to diagram you ideas, so be prepared. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article originally appeared at on April 26th, 2013.

While my last Gradhacker post focused on the written aspect of comprehensive exams, for many graduate students there is another, equally dreaded component: the oral examination.

For even the most prepared students, this can be an intense and difficult experience. However, with enough preparation and the right mindset the oral examination can actually be an enjoyable experience where you get to talk about your ideas with members of your committee.

Having just completed this hurdle myself I’d like to go over some of the things that worked and those that I wish I had known before undertaking this process. This advice is the most relevant for those of you defending a written document that you’ve had time to prepare, but some of this will be applicable to more generalized oral examination formats. Continue reading Surviving the Comprehensive Oral Exam

From Scourge to Purged: The Decline of Leprosy

Leper colony in Khor Province, Afghanistan, ru...
Leper colony in Khor Province, Afghanistan, run by the Scandanavian Charity Helping Hands (Photo credit: james_gordon_losangeles)

During the modern era of antibiotic treatment, we have gained unprecedented control over diseases that have plagued humans for centuries. Among the pathogens that the average American never encounters is Mycobacterium leprae, the causative agent of leprosy. This is also known as Hansen’s Disease, named after G.H. Armauer Hansen, who first isolated and described the bacterium in 1873. Thankfully though, while many of us have heard of this now-exotic disease, very few Americans will ever see someone with this condition.

So what is so interesting about leprosy and the bacterium that is responsible for this disease? Read on to find out. Continue reading From Scourge to Purged: The Decline of Leprosy