Dr. Damian Krysan is a physician and an Associate Professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. Krysan studies fungi, which in addition to their known roles in e.g. food spoilage and alcohol fermentation, can cause significant disease in humans.  Fungi typically cause serious and potentially fatal disease in immunocompromised people, which presents a challenge to the medical community to come up with ways to treat and prevent fungal infections in this population. Dr. Krysan is doing research to identify new anti-fungal medications. Dr. Krysan discusses fungi and fungal infections, the difficulty of identifying new anti-fungal drugs, and his interest in tiny bugs stemming from his father’s career as an entomologist studying bigger bugs. The MicroCase for listeners to solve is about LaFontaine Miraculous, the superstar baseball player with the San Antonio Fire Ants, who comes down with a mysterious illness after riding his ATV.

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and director of STCEID, UTSA)
Dr. Jose Lopez-Ribot (Professor and Associate director of STCEID,  UTSA)
Dr. Floyd Wormley (Professor, STCEID, UTSA)

 

Dr. David Bisaro is a Professor at the Ohio State University. Dr. Bisaro studies plant viruses, which are a major source of economic loss for farmers.  Plants, just like humans, can be infected with viruses, but unlike humans they don’t have antibodies and immune cells to fight off virus infections.  This can be devastating for farmers who can lose large amounts of their crops from plant viruses.  Dr. Bisaro studies how plants can survive virus infections by their own type of immune system, which suppresses the virus once it gets inside the plant. Dr. Bisaro discusses how plants protect themselves from viruses, and talks about genetically modified plants, epigenetics, and how he almost became a career musician. The MicroCase for listeners to solve is about Snowflake, a young vegetarian child who gets very sick after eating spinach salad.

Discussants (in alphabetical order): 
Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and Director of STCEID,  UTSA)
Jesus Romo (PhD candidate of STCEID, UTSA)
Dr. Garry Sunter (Professor of STCEID and Chair of the Biology Department, UTSA)

 

Dr. Sangkon Oh is an Investigator and Adjunct Professor at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research in Dallas. Dr. Oh studies dendritic cells, which are critical cells of the immune system that are typically the first cells to recognize invading microbes and alert the rest of the immune system to develop a protective response to eradicate the threat.  In this regard, they act as a “burglar alarm”, and by manipulating and shaping the dendritic cell response during vaccination, the immune system can be coaxed into providing protection against not just invading microorganisms, but also autoimmune diseases and cancer.    Dr. Oh discusses some of the exciting possibilities of targeting dendritic cells to vaccinate against cancer and autoimmune disease, and philosophizes whether humans can keep curing diseases until they live forever. He talks about his passion for science that led him to sleep in the lab so he could do more experiments.  The MicroCase for listeners to solve is about Sally, who got very sick after eating a can of beans.

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Neal Guentzel (Professor and Parliamentarian of STCEID, UTSA)

Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and Director of STCEID,  UTSA)

Dr. Alex Berezow is a science reporter, he works with the American Council on Science and Health to report on scientific discoveries and current issues. He discusses some of the difficulties associated with reporting on science to an increasingly skeptical and/or distrusting general public.  In the era of fake news, conspiracy theories, and the internet, it has become increasingly difficult for scientists to convey the importance of their research, and the benefit to society.  Alex discusses how the internet both supports and undermines science, how to restore the public’s trust in scientists, and what he would be doing if he weren’t reporting on science.

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Neal Guentzel (Professor and Parliamentarian of STCEID, UTSA)

Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and Director of STCEID,  UTSA)

Whooping cough, caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, is an extremely dangerous and potentially fatal disease for infants.  We rarely see this disease anymore because everyone is routinely vaccinated against it with the DPT childhood vaccine.  But there has lately been a resurgence in whooping cough cases, caused primarily by a reformulation of the vaccine to make it safer, which unfortunately also made it less protective against this disease.  Dr. Rajendar Deora is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Wake Forest University. Dr. Deora’s research involves improving the whooping cough vaccine. Dr. Deora is studying how to improve this vaccine back to pre-reformulation levels of protection, without reducing its safety. Dr. Deora discusses vaccines, whooping cough, and his scientific career choice.  Dr. Deora reminds everyone that “Vaccines Work!”

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Neal Guentzel (Professor and Parliamentarian of STCEID, UTSA)

Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and Director of STCEID,  UTSA)
Dr. Janakiram Seshu (Associate professor, STCEID,  UTSA)

Dr. Stefan Pukatzki is a Professor of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Colorado in Denver. Dr. Pukatzki studies Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes the human disease cholera. Cholera is a dangerous water-borne disease that rapidly spreads through human populations in large epidemics.  Dr. Pukatzki discovered that V. cholerae has a stabbing device, the Type Six Secretion system, that it uses to inject poisons into surrounding bacteria to kill them off and gain a competitive advantage.  This stabbing device is wide-spread through many types of bacteria, illuminating the violent interactions that regularly take place among microbes.  Dr. Pukatzki discusses Type Six Secretion, cholera, and serendipity.

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Neal Guentzel (Professor and Parliamentarian of STCEID, UTSA)

Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and Director of STCEID,  UTSA)

 

Mr. Cliff Kapono is a PhD student at the University of California San Diego. The human body is covered with trillions of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa), and these microbes produce lots of different chemicals that affect humans in many different ways.  Kapono’s thesis studies are based on the idea that surfers spend a lot of time in the ocean, so their microbiomes are likely influenced by all the marine microbes and chemicals.  Kapono is systematically studying the microbial communities found on surfers around the world, to discover the signature of a surfer biome.  Kapono is an avid surfer, and manages to personally check out the waves at the surf spots where he enrolls participants in his project. Kapono discusses surfing, microbiomes, and his Hawaiian heritage.

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Neal Guentzel (Professor and Parliamentarian of STCEID, UTSA)

Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and Director of STCEID,  UTSA)

 


Please visit http://www.cliffkapono.com/new-page/ to find more information about Mr. Kapono’s projects.

 

Dr. Dan Riskin is the host of the Animal Planet show about parasitic infections, Monsters Inside Me, and he also hosts a nightly science show broadcast in Canada, The Daily Planet.  Dr. Riskin studied vampire bats while earning his Ph.D., and to this day is still bat crazy. His career promoting science for general audiences and his entertaining and enthusiastic personality have led him to be a guest on various late night talk shows, and he is the author of the book “Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You”.

Dr. Riskin joined this podcast remotely from his home in Canada, and therefore the audio quality is a little scratchy.  However, his discussion of topics ranging from his bot fly infection to bats that share their armpit sweat (and other things), and touching on the need to stimulate interest in science, will make you want to keep listening!

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and director of STCEID, UTSA)
Dr. Janakiram Seshu (Associate professor, STCEID,  UTSA)
Dr. Floyd Wormley (Professor, STCEID, UTSA)

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Dr. Nathan Schmidt is an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Louisville. Dr. Schmidt studies the parasite that is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes malaria, Plasmodium. Malaria is a prevalent parasitic disease around the globe that is estimated to kill up to 500,000 people every year.  Dr. Schmidt is interested in how the microbiome, which are the bacteria that are naturally found in the gut, influence the ability of a host to resist being infected with malaria.  Dr. Schmidt discusses malaria parasites, mosquitoes, and eradication efforts.

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Evelien Bunnik (Assistant Professor of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio)
Dr. Kirsten Hanson (Assistant Professor of STCEID, UTSA)
Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and Director of STCEID,  UTSA)

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Dr. Girish Kirimanjeswara is an Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Kirimanjeswara studies bacteria that cause disease in humans, and how the immune system fights against these microbes. Selenium is a trace element that is found naturally in various environments, and Dr. Kirimanjeswara has become interested in the involvement of selenium in infectious disease.  Dr. Kirimanjeswara discusses trace elements, whooping cough, as well as his former life as a veterinarian, and the importance of vaccination.

Discussants (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Neal Guentzel (Professor and Parliamentarian of STCEID, UTSA)

Dr. Karl Klose (Professor and Director of STCEID,  UTSA)

 

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