I finally finished copying CDs onto my new ipod, my beloved white-brick old one from 2003 having died a few months ago.  220 albums on one card-sized device! It boggles the mind. When I was a kid, all we had were LPs carved out of wood. Speaking of kids, here’s K. with the plug-in USB … Continue reading ipod

STEM persistence

I’m likely to become involved in an organized effort to improve the persistence of STEM majors at the University of Oregon. (STEM meaning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and persistence meaning completing a degree rather than switching to a different field.) Less than half of the undergraduates who start out as intended STEM majors graduate … Continue reading STEM persistence

Science Comics

Being on sabbatical this term, I’ve been staying away from our science teaching journal club. I went yesterday, though, taking a break from working on papers, pondering signal processing mysteries, and failing at subcloning, since the topic was teaching science via comics. I’m fond of both science and comics, and so couldn’t stay away! I … Continue reading Science Comics

Bees, what *can’t* they do?

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about bees’ ability to detect the electric fields of flowers. Now, we find even more amazing bee abilities. Apparently, bumblebees can cut into the sides of flowers to burgle nectar from flowers they don’t pollinate. Moreover, they learn this from other bees, mimicking such things as the side … Continue reading Bees, what *can’t* they do?


At a café not long ago, I overheard some students sitting by me complaining that their error analysis exercise for a physics lab class was  extremely boring (involving e.g. propagation of errors in measurements). Usually, when I hear griping about classes I have to restrain myself from throwing coffee cups, but in this case I … Continue reading Statistics!

Stop, thieves!

I spent much of the morning being livid, after stumbling on a paper. First, some background: In 2012, I published a paper in Nature Methods that introduced and described a new algorithm for rapidly and accurately determining the location of particles in images — something that’s very important to super-resolution microscopy, measuring fluid properties using … Continue reading Stop, thieves!


A theme shared by all the experiments in my lab is that images contain information about the physical properties of materials. One of my students gave a talk on Monday about his work exploring the fluid environment experienced by swimming microbes (see my earlier post on the microbiome). Planning it beforehand, we were thinking of … Continue reading Orbitz!

The future is here…

Admittedly we’re still awaiting jet packs and flying cars, but it does quite often strike me how many present-day things would have been wild science fiction in the past. This morning, I was drinking coffee at my kitchen table and watching on-line tutorial videos on custom gene synthesis services, with clicks of a button and … Continue reading The future is here…

Another one!

I just learned that my friend David Wacks, a professor in Romance Languages, has a blog —  http://davidwacks.uoregon.edu/ — on Medieval Iberian and Sephardic Culture.  Who knew?  Our conversations mostly involve graphic novels and keeping track of our kids on Saturday mornings at the public library, so we probably both are unaware of all sorts … Continue reading Another one!