Science outreach volunteering
I adore talking about science to all sorts of people! I’m doing that currently:
• as a Master Food Preserver with the University of California Cooperative Extension. I organize events around food waste prevention and teach workshops on safe (and delicious!) methods of food preservation, with a special emphasis on food microbiology and fermentation. View a workshop I co-taught for Rethink Recycling Day here.
• as a Science Mentor for the open-access youth science journal Frontiers for Young Minds. I coordinate middle-school students to review articles written by scientists for kids.
• with K-12 classrooms and educators via video chat and guest lectures. Skype a Scientist has long been one of my favorite ways. In 2020 I participated in a “Science Behind” talk on survival in space for the NISE Net Moon Adventure Game (video here). And in 2021 I gave a lecture as part of the NASA-sponsored Destination Space outreach program for elementary schools in the San Jose area; watch my talk on microbes in space here!
• with high school students as part of the Methylothon project. I develop course materials and lead lessons in microbial ecology, from field sampling to phylogeny.
• between 2018 and 2020 I was a docent at the California Academy of Sciences, spending time in the Rainforest, the Flooded Amazon, the Giants of Land and Sea exhibit, and talking about sustainability in food and energy.
Writing for non-microbiologists
- BEACON Researchers at Work: On Microbial Individuality. (May 2017) On phenotypic heterogeneity, and flatbed photo scanners.
- BEACON Researchers at Work: What ice cream and biofuels have in common: vanillin and the microbes that eat it. (June 2015) A blog post about the role of Methylobacterium in lignin degradation
- The Stanford Wine Society blog – in which I wrote multiple posts on wine science during my time there (2014):
– an account of home wine fermentation
– the genetics of odor perception
– microbial biogeography in vineyards
– grapevine physiology and root grafting
– and the biochemistry behind tannins, acids, and aromas in wine.
- Yeast Are People Too: Sourdough fermentation from the microbe’s point of view. A conference paper I presented at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery in 2010.
- Other peoples’ writing: I’ve been cited as a scientific source on the topic of the microbiology of fermented foods: in an article about cultured butter in the cheese magazine Culture (M. Trapkin 12/1/19), and in the book The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz (2012).