I am featured in this week’s CALS “scientifink” writeup!

I happen to love my ascospore tattoo, and am happy to share it with the world.

ascospore tattoo

ascospores on my arm

I remember when I got it done, after passing my A exam.  It was my first tattoo, and I felt ready to make a commitment.  After all, I was going to spend 5 (hah!) years working with this fungus: how could I possibly get sick of it?  Plus, once I passed my B exam and earned my PhD, I would build onto it with the asexual spores.  Eventually I’ll have the arm covered with organisms I’ve worked with as my career goes on.

I’ve actually scheduled my B exam for NEXT MONTH!  This means that I get to add to it soon.  I’m planning on getting several more asci, as well as an emptied ascus with ascospores loosely stuck together, like in the photo also included in the article.

(An ascus is a sac.  Ascomycetes are fungi which produce their (asco)spores in sacs.  This is in contrast to basidiomycetes, which produces their spores on basidium.  This is what the mushrooms you would find in the grocery store do).

more ascospores

ascospores under the scope

It’s hard for me to overstate my kinship with Cochliobolus heterostrophus.  I’ve spent 6 years working with it, and love it to death.  The hours I’ve spent transferring cultures of it, spraying it on corn, collecting spores, and dissecting ascospores under the microscope have really transformed.  Now that I’m at the end of my PhD, I feel like a “real” scientist, capable of breaking down problems, with my eyes and ears open for unexpected discoveries.

Tattoo photos courtesy Kent Loeffler