Browsing: Bioscience

My fascination with the microbial world began when I was around 7 years old and my mother bought me a book called “The Value of Believing in Yourself: The Story of Louis Pasteur”. Nearly four decades later, I still vividly remember the story about the little boy Joey and the “invisible enemy” that had invaded his body. So began my journey into this tiny realm. On Friday, May 13, the White House announced a new initiative to advance our knowledge of the world of microbes, called microbiomes, and realize their full potential. As it has for so many other innovations, NIST will play an important part in the realization of microbiome-based products and treatments by helping to develop standards and…

Nancy Drew and Kay Scarpetta — two names that will always put a smile on my face. I spent much of my youth reading about these two strong female characters. What do they have in common? They are fictional detectives that had an early influence on the career in DNA forensics that I have today at NIST. As a young, avid reader, I remember always being at the bookstore when the latest Nancy Drew book was released, and I would devour it as fast as I could. These mysteries made me think, solve analytical problems, and simply want the “bad guys” to be caught and punished. I wanted to figure it out and actually be Nancy Drew. If I really…

I came to NIST in January 2015, not as a physicist, analytical chemist, or engineer, but as a biologist, a fit that surprised some of my friends from grad school. NIST … biology … whaaat? Most people think of measurements when they think of NIST, and the why and how for measuring biology is not always obvious. Measurements for biological systems are usually complex and fuzzy because living things are complicated and behave unpredictably, despite our best efforts. This can be frustrating to people who measure things for a living (like the folks I work with), who prefer hard numbers and tight error bars. Yet, we use biotechnology to make many commercial products (medicines, beer, biofuels, and food, for example).…