A Whole New Lab (Dealings of a New Professor #1)

I just turned in my first external grant and I am HYPE (C’mon Cystic Fibrosis Foundation). So… I can’t sleep. I wanted to write on what it’s been like a new PI, but that will have to wait because when I sat down, I had kid’s music stuck in my head. When that happens, I have to write new lyrics to get it out of my head. So without further ado, here is that Disney classic from Aladdin, A Whole New Lab.


I can show you the lab

Equipment borrowed and brand new

Tell me, students, now won’t you give this young PI a try


I still work at the bench

Hope to not micromanage

I’m just into the data that I hope you might provide


A whole new lab

A new fantastic project for you

New toys are coming in

Not hard to spend (yet)

I want to do some science


A whole new lab

A dazzling place for you to do

Projects to change the field

Bad bugs will yield

Let me share this whole new lab with you


A whole new lab

Rotate with me

At U of A

Room 221



More on what it’s like to be a PI later. Also, there was a new podcast from the new crew. Check it out at cure4kids.org/ums/sites/teachers/plugins/page.php?id=19





New Science Sound Bites Podcast – MacGyvering Treatments for Infectious Diseases


Hey Podcast Listeners,

That is a MacGyver reference from the Simpson’s, but honestly if only it was that easy to get out of some sticky situations. This point is especially relevant when it comes to situations involving human health. There are unfortunately many people, such as those in resource limited settings, who don’t have the luxury of great diagnostic tools to help determine disease type or progression so the question arises, what can be done to help those people? How do you prioritize disease A over disease B or worse, how do you choose to even look for disease A vs disease B? 

These are tough questions and for some insight into the matter, I turned to Dr. Sheena Mukkada, an Infectious Diseases Fellow at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and episode 16 entitled “MacGyvering Treatments for Infectious Diseases.” Take a listen and learn about some of the steps being made internationally to protect human health. We also talk about different health degrees people can obtain and the uses they have in society.


List of Terms: Master’s in Public Health (MPH), Research Design, Infectious Diseases, Resource Limited Settings, Cancer, White Blood Cells, Immunocompromised, Diagnostic Tools, Blood Cultures, Bacterial Diversity, Antibiotic Resistance, Virus Pneumonia, Aerobic

Happy Holidays to all and remember to like the podcast on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sciencesoundbites


New Month, New Science Sound Bites Podcast!!

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It’s the beginning of the month so that means it’s time for another episode of Science Sound Bites. In this interview, titled ‘Cell’s Got Rhythm, Who Could Ask For Anything More,’ I speak with Dr. Brandon Cox about her research about hearing. Some of the things we talk about are how you hear, which cells are involved, and can ear damage be reversed. Speaking of those cells, there is a video of a dancing cell (no animation, an actual cell) bouncing to a beat that you won’t want to miss in the PowerPoint slides. Also, there will be a SPECIAL back to school special episode on August 10th (AKA the day my kids go back to school) so stay tuned. In the mean time, please share the podcast link to the Google drive here, Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sciencesoundbites (where all the most up-to-date information about the podcast can be found), or visit the St. Jude hosting site at https://www.cure4kids.org/teachers (just look under the resources tab for the podcast). Lets all work together to make a new generation of scientists and science appreciators.



Pi Day Podcast and Meeting the Mayor

First things first, IT IS PI DAY!!!! That means another podcast released as close to Pi time as I could in my time zone. In this episode, I interview Dr. Amber Smith, a faculty member microphone-21at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In the theme of Pi day, Dr. Smith is a BioMathematician. The title of the episode is “Knocking Infections Off the Catwalk with Models.” Dr. Smith provided some GREAT slides to go along with the interview so I think you will really learn a lot. Here is a sample of the episode. For the whole episode, click here or follow the link at the top of the page to sign up. And if you are on twitter, be sure to use #SSBPodcast to talk about the Science Sound Bites Podcast.

Next, I did a STEM expo at Whitehaven Elementary School on Thursday. It was a lot of fun as I was an honored guest along with a member of the FAA and the MAYOR! Along with have a St. Jude room to talk about our research and about what St. Jude does to help people, I got to give a talk to the school STEM students. I thought it would be best to talk about music and baseball, because, why not?? I’ll link the talk once I have it and some of the pictures. The kids were great, very engaging and most had done a science fair project. The principal of 4 years has done some wonderful things that that inner city public school, from failing to exceeding. Kudos to him!! I’ll talk about that in my next blog post. I also did a guest piece in the St. Jude insider. I’ll post that one later too.

Cheers and go get some Pi…I mean pie,



Science Sound Bites Podcast Line Up, a Sample, and 2K Views!!!

I just wanted to share a resource that I have recently created. I made a podcast (sample) specifically designed to supplement STEM curriculum in high schools. In short, I interview another scientist about their research in basic terms and try to interject terminology used in current science syllabi, thus giving real world scientific applications to classrooms that don’t always have access to them. microphone-21Each ~15 minute podcast comes with a few slides on the topic, a list of terms used (so that teachers can figure out the best ones to use), and a bio on the scientist. It even has theme music!! I have tried to cover a diverse group of topics (not limited to cancer, infectious disease, and math) and interview a diverse group of PhDs (which would be good for Black History Month). So far we have had participation from coast to coast!!

Here is the line up we have so far:

Traffic on Cancer Avenue – Dr. Zach Faber – How does cancer begin and what scientists are doing about it

Crystal Clear – Dr. Clifford Froelich – How do we figure out what proteins look like and how we use that information to design treatments

All Star Catcher for the Body – Dr. Delira Robbins – How does the body get rid of small molecules (medicine/toxins) and how can we stop it or make it more efficient

Mean, Green, Timekeeping, and Energy Making Machine – Dr. Beronda Montgomery – How do plants know what time of day and how does that information change how they grow

If you think you or science teachers can you know can use these, just have them email me at BlackScienceBlog@gmail.com and I will give you/them the download instructions. The more emails I get, the more resources I’ll hopefully be able to provide (and I will be able to keep you up-to-date on new podcast episodes, there are four done and four more in the editing phase). All I want to do is help :).

Also, thanks for supporting the blog, I am over 2000 views so thank you to my friends who logged on several computers to access the site everyday.


Science Sound Bites; a Podcast for STEM Teachers

Everyone is a scientist. We all make discoveries in our own world. It shapes how we live, how we interact, and how we co-exist. Some of us are casual scientists and some of us do it for a living. For those of us who do it for a living, the questions we ask are designed to further human understating of the world we live in. To help, to inspire, to cure, to prevent harm. microphone-21Benefiting human life and health are the core reasons why we do what we do.

We as scientist understand we can’t do it all alone. United we stand in trying to solve the health problems that plague our society. We need people. People like you to not only support what we do to help humanity, but to understand what we do as well. Thus, we need to inspire early and often. Early as in going into schools to provide real world applications of the crucial lessons students are learning right now. To show that there is more to science than just what is in a textbook.

So what if there was a way to get a scientist into classrooms when teachers needed them?

What if there was a way to link what that scientist did with current middle school and high school science curriculum?

I’m Michael Johnson, a postdoc at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A group of us here came up with the idea to interview scientists about their current research. But more than that, we want to breakdown our science in a way that everyone can understand and relate to, while drawing parallels to current middle school and high school science curriculum; things that you the teachers are going over right now. In each episode, I will chat with a scientist for about 15 minutes and include a slide or two about what we are talking about. It is my hope that you the teachers can use these interviews as a tool to supplement your lessons and inspire your students. Welcome to Science Sound Bites Presented by the Postdocs of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

If you are interested in using these podcast, please send me an email at blackscienceblog@gmail.com. Please include who you are, where you are from, what grade and subject you teach (if applicable), and what you will use it for. I need this information to generate institutional support and so I can keep you up-to-date on new podcast. These podcast are and will always be 100% FREE. Since this is a limited release, please feel free to email me back with feedback on what you want to hear, what you thought was an appropriate grade level for the interview you heard, and how your students responded. Also, if you know someone who is interested please share this information with them. Here is a sample.


Michael D. L. Johnson Ph.D.