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Communication Skills, Bacterial and Human

The Howard Hughes Medical Institutes Holiday Lectures for 2009, presented last week, introduced selected high school students to microbiologist Bonnie Bassler and Baldomero Olivera, an expert on poisonous snails, who discussed their seemingly esoteric studies and the powerful practical applications they are leading to.

I’m a huge fan of Bonnie Bassler, a professor of molecular biology at Princeton and 2002 McArthur “genius grant” winner who has made key discoveries about the bacterial communication system known as quorum sensing. If I had had a science teacher like Bassler, I could see how my life might have taken a whole different course. She has the rare gift of communicating her mind-blowing ideas in down-to-earth language that helps someone with practically no knowledge of the subject to grasp its mind-blowingness. I think her two presentations here and here are just amazing.

Since I can’t seem to embed the HHMI video here (follow links above), this short science PSA where Bassler discusses about how American kids got turned off to “science,” give a sense of her style and gift.


Bonnie Bassler on Why American Kids Are Behind in ScienceThe most amazing bloopers are here

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