Civilization is Born – Matt Andrews


“Civilization is Born” by Matt Andrews

Artists Statement:

A virus is in some respects a pure expression of information made manifest. It is like a book, it exists and anything that happens because of what it contains is dependent on the life which reads it.

The only difference between humanity now and humanity a hundred thousand years ago is the information, be it science, culture, or other knowledge which we have accumulated and spread among ourselves.

In this piece I have drawn inspiration from viruses, to that end I havbe created a scene in a 3D program where I modeled the delivery protein structure of a virus bacteriophage including the icosohedral head, tail, base plate, and tail fibers, all of which I have scaled up to a size closer to that of a human, the DNA has been replaced with a book.


Some larger renders of this scene:

Civilization is Born

Art Project

The diversity of the microbial world is not only astounding, but awe inspiring. Life as we know it would not be possible without this vast microbial community and oxygenating our atmosphere, cycling our nitrogen, and fixing our carbon. These and so many other processes, allow us to inhabit this Earth and continue to thrive. However, there is still the <1% of microbes which are classified as pathogenic to humans. These microbes, do not help our quality of life but rather, can cause disease and death in our populations.


Since 2015 the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) publishes a yearly list of pathogens. These pathogens are those which have been identified to pose the greatest public health risk due to their “epidemic potential and for which there are no, or insufficient, countermeasures.’ (World Health Organization, 2018). The pathogens which are the subjects of my portrait collage are those of the 2018 R&D Blueprint List of priority pathogens. (

For my art project I have done small portraits of the pathogens listed by the W.H.O.. It should be noted that these are in no particular order. All of these pathogens are in need of further analysis as well as analysis for treatment methods which would be imperative for stalling an outbreak. One should also note that there is a “Disease X’ within this collage. There is no true disease called Disease X, but rather the potential that an as of yet unknown pathogen that could cause widespread disease epidemics is out there. It is my hope that even though my artistic abilities and nudges to 70’s rock bands may not be the best, they can introduce this information to a broader audience. Since not everyone spends their free time looking at the W.H.O. website.

-Samantha Smith

A6: Painting with Microbes

Name/ Section : MM Ragusa/F03

Color by Colony


Artistic Intent:

I surrendered the attempt to create beautiful art for the purpose of demonstrating how media can impact the feel of an image. My inspiration came from watching crows above the snow laden tree in my front yard on a cold, sunny afternoon. Contrast and complimentary colors create an open, high energy feel, as seen on the top plate pictured below, most representative of my inspiration. Using a background media which doesn’t contrast, or changing the color of shapes so they are similar shades to the background can either result in a fuzzy, unfocused feeling, or in an intense, turbulent feeling. These may be seen in the middle and bottom plates, respectively.


Each agar plate is painted with three different microbial organisms. The cloud on each is painted with Serratia marcescens, a Gram-negative non-fermenter. The birds are created with Chromobacter violaceum, another Gram-negative non-fermenter. The treetop at the bottom of each plate is made of Enterobacter aerogenes, a Gram-negative fermenter.

Role of Media in Color Spectrum

On the top plate the media is Tryptic Soy Agar (TSA), a standard complex medium. The background on this plate remains a neutral color, and microbes growing on it develop colonies which are colored by their natural pigments (pink for S. marcescens, deep violet for C. violaceum, and white for E. aerogenes). The cloud on this plate is a very light pink, typical of a young colony of S. marcescens.

The middle plate is Eosin Methylene Blue (EMB) agar, a medium which is selective for (does not inhibit the growth of) Gram negative microbes. EMB   is also differential, in that it changes in response to fermentation products. Lactose and sucrose fermentation create acidic products, which turn eosin red or black. By consuming the medium, strong fermenters turn black with a metallic green sheen. If the organisms ferment but produce less acid, they turn pink to red on EMB agar. This can be seen in the light pink hue of the tree top on the middle plate. (I had hoped for stronger fermentation effects.) Non-fermenters should retain their original colors. The microbes on this plate found something delicious, and overgrew in just 17 hours of incubation after being painted on the EMB agar. The microbes in the birds were out-competed for the limited resources on the plate.

The bottom plate is MacConkey (MAC) agar, which is also selective for Gram-negative microbes and differential in response to fermentation products. MAC agar contains peptone rather than sucrose, in addition to lactose. The pH dependent dye in MAC agar lightens to pink from the products of lactose fermentation. Again, this is seen in the pink hue of the tree top on the bottom plate. Non-lactose fermentation lightens the agar even further, and produces white or colorless colonies on light pink to translucent agar. None of the microbes used were non-lactose fermenters, so the agar has only a halo of lightening around the tree top. The pink color of the cloud on this plate is not explained by the plate’s differential nature, as non-fermenters should retain their original colors. The darker pink is more representative of mature S. marcescens colonies. The C. violaceum grew colonies only in the most densely painted parts, perhaps in response to some agar quality.


Painting with Microbes

Extending an Olive Branch – Kyle Callegari, BIOL 342 Sec. 1


Johnny Bravo – Kyle Callegari, BIOL 342 Sec. 1


Yin Yang – Kyle Callegari, BIOL 342 Sec. 1


For the first bacteria plate, on TSA medium, my intent was solely to become more comfortable with streaking a design on a solid medium plate.   I tested adding varied amounts of bacteria and played around with the amount of strokes before swabbing for more bacteria.   I additionally became comfortable using the different sides of the inoculation loop for different width strokes.   The TSA medium is not differential or selective.

The Eosin methylene blue agar is a selective and differential medium used to culture gram-negative bacteria.   Johnny Bravo’s facial features grew a dark purple color indicating rapid lactose fermentation.   This bacteria produces acidic waste quickly and in turn absorbed the dark dye.   The tan strains have remained uncolored because they do not ferment lactose, but rather remove amino acid groups from the lactose medium increasing the pH. I used S. marcescens, and E. aerogenes on this plate My intent with this piece was was to create a recognizable figure that recalls fond memories.

The MacConkey agar is a selective and differential solid medium designed to isolate gram-negative bacteria.   It has dye that indicates the fermentation of lactose by turning pink when the process is occurring.   I used S. marcescens and C. freundii on this plate.   The yin yang symbol represents inseparable and contradictory opposites, and dates back to the third century.   It is possible S. marcescens has a faster growth rate than C. freundii, and that is why the bacteria in pink didn’t establish as well.

A1: Introducing Maggie

Hello All. My name is Maggie. Please don’t mind me when I sign off   with “MM Ragusa.” Old habits die hard, and I learned a long time ago that a little ambiguity can reduce a lot of judgement. So I like to keep ’em guessing…

I saw some of the Painting with Microbes pieces from previous semesters, and I was interested in how it was done.   Here’s a You Tube video, in case you’re interested too. Some of it is truly amazing artwork! I have no aspirations of creating anything more impressive than a smiley face, but it’s awesome to see what can be done, when you know your medium. (In this case, the medium is microbes!)

Here’s the winner of the 2018 American Society for Microbiology’s Agar Art contest:  “The Battle of Winter and Spring’ by Ana Tsitsishvili.

A2: Microbes in the News Assignment

Microbes in the News !

Over the course of the semester, post 3 different stories involving microbes  from the popular media and then read and comment on 3  posts by other students.


Points: Total possible = 30 points. Earn up to 8 pts for making a post and 2 points for posting a comment. Create 3 posts and 3 comments over the course of the semester.

Deadlines: Posts can be made as soon as you’d like, but for full credit you must post them by these deadlines:

Post 1: Feb. 8

Post 2: April 1

Post 3: April 15

All comments: April 15


Learning Objectives:

– Increase your awareness of microbiology and its role in society

– Expand and apply your knowledge of microbiology

– Practice critical thinking by analyzing popular news media for scientific accuracy

– Develop questions about microbiology

– Help your peers and yourself understand microbiology by answering their questions



Over the course of the semester, create 3 separate Microbes in the News posts on the course website, and then read and comment on 3 Microbes in the News posts by other students. Be sure to follow the guidelines below in order to qualify for  full credit.


Guidelines for creating a post:

Article and link: Enter the title, source, and date of the article and create a link to it. Articles should be from any popular media source (newspaper, magazine, podcast, blog,  etc.) that others can access without hitting a paywall. Any relevant story is acceptable, but challenge yourself to find stories that are current (~within the last 3 months) and that haven’t yet been posted by your peers, whenever possible.

Summary: Write a short summary of the story (just a few sentences is sufficient).

Connections: Explain briefly how this connects to what we’ve covered in class.

Critical analysis: Explain what you found interesting about this story, and what (if anything) you learned. Comment on whether you think the story was scientifically accurate or not. If you noticed any factual inaccuracies or aspects of the story that might inadvertently confuse or misinform readers, identify those and provide a more accurate explanation. Also comment on how this was written. Do you think it did a good job of communicating science to the public? Why or why not?

Question: Write a question about microbiology that you had as a result of reading this story.

Categorize: Categorize your post as “A2: Microbes in the News’ using the categories menu on the right. This will ensure I can find it and give you credit.

Tag: Tag your post based on any relevant microbiological themes by choosing from the tag menu (below categories on the right). Use existing tags when possible, but you can add new ones if needed by clicking “+Add New Category’ link just below the list of tags. This will help us find stories on relevant themes. You can also use these tags to search for other students’ stories on themes that interest you.

Guidelines for commenting on a post:

– Read the news story and the students’ post about it

– Create a comment and write a response to their critical analysis. Do you agree, disagree, or have more to add?

– In your comment, answer their question to the best of your ability. This might require some independent research.