Writing Exercise #11

I felt that the peer-review process was easier when the writing was better. It can be really difficult to effectively critique someones paper when there is no real focus or direction in the writing. It can also be difficult to provide useful critique when a paper is already really well written. I learned that I should be extra mindful of my organization and clarity because while it may seem clear to me because I wrote it, others may not be able to interpret the purpose of my writing as easily as I can. I’m also going to double check my transitions because those aren’t always smooth and concise.

Writing Exercise #10

Peer review is when a scientific article is sent to other people, usually scientists in the same field of study, who have extensive knowledge on the topic of the paper. This is done to help improve the quality of the paper being published.

Some pros of peer review is that you know the evidence presented is of quality and has credibility behind it. Peer review also helps the author to check themselves in case they may have missed something or weren’t aware of some other sort of scientific evidence in the scientific community. Some cons of peer review is it can be a lengthy process and in some cases people may have a different opinion than the writer and that may make the review process difficult and unfavorable for the author.

Writing Exercise #9

In recent years, we have seen human behaviors change and develop, with this change we see an increase in technology usage, as well as, dietary fads and a decrease in outdoors activities. The development of new technology has lead to many adolescents staying indoors. With the internet and video games that plague out generation, many children aren’t going outside to play anymore. They also aren’t participating in outdoors activities like hiking, hunting, fishing, and camping. While these activities were popular many years back, now a days it is rare to see a child participating in outdoor activities. There has also been an uptick in health consciousness but not the correct kind. Many parents follow fad diets now a days, some believe specific foods are bad for them and their children, yet they have no real allergic reaction or intolerance to the food. All of these factors could lead to a decrease in exposure to microbes.

Writing Exercise #8

Some of the most interesting and surprising things I learned about in regards to microbes and human health is that periodontitis has shown to increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  This was especially interesting to me because the article mentioned a large percentage of the population having periodontitis at some point in their lives. I also found the information regarding probiotics to be quite interesting. I wish there was more information about probiotics like how much and what types of bacteria are best for you. I would also like like to know more about the specific mechanisms behind the probiotics and how they benefit human health.

Periodontitis has shown to increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This could be especially concerning to those with gum disease and gingivitis. The good news is that gingivitis is reversible! The bad news is once a bacterial infection reaches the pulp the risk of having a stroke significantly increases. I wonder if these cases of cardiovascular disease being linked to periodontitis have any relation to tobacco use.

For my final paper I think I might focus on tobacco usage and how it can alter human microbial populations. I will most likely tie in the data showing an association between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease. I will also look to see if there is any measures that can be taken to reverse the effects, such as the use of probiotics.

Writing Exercise #7

Certain factors that may influence the colonization of the microbial community in newborn infants can be positive and/or negative. Diet is the most obvious factor that could influence colonization of the gut in pregnant women. Studies showed that mice fed a high-fat diet showed changes in their gut flora as their pregnancies progressed. It wasn’t entirely clear if these changes were positive or negative, it was just clear that the diet had an impact on the gut flora [1]. Another obvious impact on the microbial population of an infant occurs after the first trimester. There appears to be an increase in the amount of  Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria, and a decrease in alpha diversity in the mom [1]. This could typically seen as bad since it isn’t consistent with that of a healthy non-pregnant woman, however, these changes are helpful for a pregnant woman because they are needed for the baby. Another influence that occurs in the third trimester are the levels of anti-inflammatory Faecalibacterium being reduced [1]. This is interesting because this bacterium is typically lower in metabolic syndrome patients which would give the impression that this would have a negative impact on the mother. However, the change is needed to prepare for the birth of the baby so it is therefore positive in terms of the birthing process. In the third trimester there were other factors that also appeared to influence the microbial population.  There was an increase in beta-diversity,  weight gain, insulin insensitivity, and an increase in fecal cytokines, which indicate inflammation. These all seemed to create changes in the microbial population that are needed to have a healthy pregnancy.


  1. Nuriel-Ohayon M, Neuman H, Koren O. 2016. Microbial Changes during Pregnancy, Birth, and Infancy. Frontiers in Microbiology.

Writing Exercise #6

As much as I know about the health care field, I am aware that I don’t go to the doctor as often as I should in terms of preventative care. Part of the reason for this is because I haven’t had any serious illnesses requiring medical intervention. When I get the common cold, I feel that I should let my body fight it off on its own. Unless I have a high grade fever, tachycardia, vomiting, and diarrhea (to the point of dehydration), feel that I have the flu or pneumonia, I typically won’t go. I know that for viral respiratory illnesses the treatment is to typically wait it out.

My general rule of thumb is if I haven’t started feeling better after a week or so, I’ll consider getting it checked out. I am not one to run to the doctors over every cough and sneeze. I feel that antibiotics are typically over-prescribed and can do more harm than good if you are not careful. A couple of the pediatric research studies I am working on are testing 10 vs 5 days of antibiotics and antibiotic vs placebo to see if the guidelines we have for treating certain illnesses, such as ear infections and sinusitis, are the most beneficial. While the final analysis of our data isn’t complete, I feel that once it is, I will be more concrete in my feelings towards antibiotic treatment.

Writing Exercise #5

In terms of the food and nutrition I choose to consume, I typically go with whatever is cheap and filling, usually my first pick is cheesy rice with hot sauce. This is because I am your typical ‘broke college student’. While I choose to coat the my rice with shredded mozzarella cheese, there is an unintentional benefit from the cheese. Cheese provides my body with protein and good bacteria. However, on occasion, I make some intentional health conscientious decisions.  Every so often, when I am feeling extra health aware, I’ll opt to purchase fermented tea. Most people are more aware with the brand name, Kombucha. I know that with my typical day to day diet I am probably not consuming all of the nutrients and antioxidants that I should be so I have started drinking probiotics. My flavor of choice is by the brand Kevita and it’s pineapple peach. I personally feel that soda is too sweet, unhealthy, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. However, fermented tea has just a touch of carbonation and there’s something oddly satisfying about the hint of vinegar in the flavor. I also love knowing that I am helping my digestive track to foster a healthier microbial environment.