Friday, 30 November 2012

BMFRC Retreat

Today, most of my group is at the lovely Epping Club for the Biomolecular Frontiers Research Centre (BMFRC) annual retreat. Unlike Napoleon (see image below), summer is the season for retreats here in Australia, we have another retreat for a different centre coming up in a week or two. Our BMFRC retreat is an all day event where each of the research groups involved in the centre have 10 minutes to present their research highlights for the year. In addition, we have guest speakers from academia and industry, and a presentation from our silver medal winning iGEM students. Finally, we wind up with a discussion session on the future directions of our research centre. Should be a fun day.

Image of another famous retreat

Thursday, 29 November 2012

International Visitors

A clear sign that summer in Sydney is almost upon us, we are hosting a number of international visitors to the Paulsen lab at the moment. We have Peter Henderson and Scott Jackson visiting from the University of Leeds for 5-6 weeks, collaborating on biophysical analyses of multidrug transport proteins that our group are working on. These are proteins that sit in the membranes of bacterial cells and pump drugs out of the cell to make the bacteria resistant to antibiotics and antiseptics. Peter is a  world-leading expert in biochemical analysis of membrane transporters, so it's great having him visit. Anne-Brit Kolsto and Aniko Voros from the University of Oslo are also visiting our lab for 1-2 months collaborating on a project to look at multidrug transport proteins in Bacillus cereus, a pathogen that causes food poisoning (and is the reason why you shouldn't eat cooked rice that has sat at room temperature for too long). Anne-Brit is one of the world's leading researchers on this bacterium, and continues our tradition of having Norwegian collaborators visit here in Sydney. We also have Rebecca Watts visiting from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (ok, so technically, Queensland isn't really another country). Rebecca is working on a project looking at whether strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that infect cystic fibrosis patients are functionally different from strains isolated from the environment and other sources.

And its clearly a lovely time to visit Sydney, and admire how our beaches are currently red during the day and glowing blue at night thanks to a dinoflagellate bloom.

red tide in the morning, swimmers warning (photo courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald)

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Too dangerous for me to play

As a recovering MMO (massive multiplayer online) gaming addict, I've been tempted by a number of recent(ish) offerings such as Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, Stars Wars Knights of the Old Republic, etc, which I have so far resisted. I was intrigued on the weekend by a new MMO game developed by Google called Ingress, in which one wanders around the real world with your android phone, checking out whether real world objects have secret mysterious energy fields.

I already have too many problems walking into things in the real world while reading stuff on my iPad, so probably this game won't be for me. Once Google combines it with glasses that overlay a virtual reality on the real world, well then it will be much more difficult to resist. Read Vernor Vinge's "Rainbow's End" for a vision of that sort of future.

Hopefully I won't be sued by Google for using this advertising image