Aug 2011 - Micro-economics

From being responsible for significant economic losses to forming the foundation for numerous established and developing businesses, microbes have a huge but often overlooked impact on the world of economics. This issue of Microbiology Today looks at just a few of the ways in which money can be made and lost with microbes, and even how money can make us ill!

Worldwide wastage: the economics of biodeterioration
Biodeterioration can be defined as 'any undesirable change in a material brought about by the vital activities of organisms'. But what are the costs and how do we estimate them? Dennis Allsopp explains.

Where there's bugs, there's brass ...
Nobody likes waste. People like landfill even less. But as Steven Martin and Elaine White report, new green technologies offer an exciting opportunity to divert our household waste from landfill and convert it into renewable fuels and a range of valuable bio-based chemicals.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
For academics, working with industry can provide valuable, alternative sources of research income and help demonstrate impact. If you’re actively looking to engage with industry, then you may want to tap into the Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme (KTP). If you haven't heard of KTP, then hopefully Susan Matos' article will give you an insight into the benefits and workings of this highly successful scheme.

Dirty money
There are many things we know about minimizing our risk of exposure to and the spread of infections. We wash our hands after visiting the bathroom; we know how to store and prepare food safely; we know to 'catch it, bin it, kill it' when we sneeze. But how many of us think of the notes in our wallets and purses as a significant source of pathogenic bacteria and viruses? Kofi Aidoo enlightens us.

Spinning-out x4
Entering the world of business can be a daunting prospect for a lab-based researcher with an exciting idea. Interacting with investors, patent lawyers and university bureaucracy, as well as learning new management skills in parallel with your continuing research are beyond the normal realms of experience for most academics. But with the right idea, backed by the right people, a lot of application and a little bit of luck, spinning-out can be very rewarding ...

Standing up for science
By speaking to the media, scientists enable society to make good or bad decisions. Laura Udakis explains.

Guarding microbial diversity - the debate continues
Following his Comment article in the August 2010 issue of MT, Paul Hoskisson reports on the debate held during a symposium held at the SGM Spring Conference in Harrogate on Guarding microbial diversity: the importance of fundamental infrastructure in underpinning the microbial sciences.

Laura Udakis highlights recent microbiology stories.

Vicki Symington describes the life and times of the first advocate for good hygiene - Florence Nightingale, and looks at the resources that SGM offers to help you in your education and outreach activities.

In keeping with the theme of this issue, John Peberdy describes the Biotechnology YES competition. Shaun Robertson describes how he has benefitted from a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, and Vicki Symington reports on how students can get involved with our public engagement activities.

Public Affairs
Laura Udakis highlights our new Briefings, and Ron Fraser reports on SGM at the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.

See how the SGM got on at this year's Cheltenham Science Festival in a special photo report.

Going Public
Reports of recent events organized by SGM members.

Comment: Open educational resources
Open educational resources should be made use of - why re-invent the wheel asks Alan Cann. But how does one deal with copyright and assess quality? A new project - OeRBITAL - has been set up to overcome these issues.

Hot off the Press highlights some new developments in microbiological research published in the Society's journals - Microbiology, Journal of General Virology, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology and Journal of Medical Microbiology. Topics covered include:

  • Bugs in your pocket
  • Novel virus from dragonflies
  • Virus persistence in leeches
  • Why does Candida parapsilosis succeed where others fail?

Last updated 25 May 2011