Triskelion #3

This is the third post in a series called Triskelion. The triskelion is an ancient symbol consisting of a triple spiral (or legs) exhibiting rotational symmetry. The triskelion has different meanings across cultures, but all meanings revolve around a rule of 3’s. In this series, I’ll share three things — a paper, a quote, and a thought. I'll post these whenever I can fill up the three branches of the triskelion. I hope you enjoy.

A Paper

I recently re-read one of my all-time favorite papers: Central Role of the Cell in Microbial Ecology by Karsten Zengler. The review highlights what we can learn from studying cells (as opposed to sequences), despite the associated challenges, and why it’s still critical to do so in the age of genomics.

There are so many gems in this review and I find that each time I read it I learn something new and see my own research in a slightly different light.

Top-down and  bottom-up approaches in microbial ecology, spanning orders of magnitude in spatial resolution. Top-down approaches (including but not limited to biodiversity assessments, rate measurements, isotope signature determination, and various “-omics” studies) utilize data sets which are in general not organism (individual) specific. Interpretation of these data often relies on previous knowledge (e.g., in the form of a molecular biology database). Bottom-up approaches (e.g., cultivation or single-cell techniques and various “-omics” methods) focus on single organisms. Knowledge gained by studying individual organisms or defined communities is consequently extrapolated to larger communities and the environment. Both concepts have advantages and limitations (see text) and are clearly dependent on the scientific goal.
Figure 4 from Zengler 2009: Top Down and bottom-up approaches in microbial ecology, spanning orders of magnitude in spatial resolution. Top-down approaches (including but not limited to biodiversity assessments, rate measurements, isotope signature determination, and various “-omics” studies) utilize data sets which are in general not organism (individual) specific. Interpretation of these data often relies on previous knowledge (e.g., in the form of a molecular biology database). Bottom-up approaches (e.g., cultivation or single-cell techniques and various “-omics” methods) focus on single organisms. Knowledge gained by studying individual organisms or defined communities is consequently extrapolated to larger communities and the environment. Both concepts have advantages and limitations (see text) and are clearly dependent on the scientific goal.

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A Quote

“IQ, cognitive abilities are basically hardwired. They don’t really change that much through life… On the other hand, emotional intelligence is learned and learnable, and you can upgrade it at any point in life.” —Dr. Daniel Goleman

I recently listened to Dr. Goleman on the Finding Mastery Podcast and it was one of the highest-value podcasts I’ve listened to in years. Really powerful discussions on team building and how to be an effective leader in whatever you do. Super applicable for lab group or departmental leaders.

A Thought

Graduate students, especially doctoral students, would significantly benefit from exposure to leadership (including emotional intelligence) and mentorship concepts as part of their formal graduate education. Many graduate students directly oversee undergraduate researchers and when they graduate, will be in leadership positions simply because of the degree they’ve earned. Such leadership training would not only benefit the future teams these individuals contribute to, but would provide immediate tools that can be used to bolster their own career path in real time.

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