Writing Exercise #15:

If I were the head of an institution and had the option to fund a research project, I would want to fund a project that dealt with pregnant mothers and how their diets may have affected the contents of their breast milk. We learned this term that a breastmilk vs formula diet does have an affect on the infant’s gut microbiota. However, I was surprised to see in many papers how it was reported that infants on a formula based diet had more of a diverse microbiota than infants who were primarily breastfed. I would be curious to see if by altering a mothers diet it would change the contents of her breast milk and in change increase the microbial gut community of their infant. I would hope to learn more about how to increase the nutrient concentration for mothers that breastfeed so that healthcare workers could provide expecting mothers with better  nutritional information so that their infants gain a more diverse microbiota through proper and safe exposure.

Writing Exercise #14:

Human Non-infectious diseases 

IBS , Diabetes ,Autoimmune diseases ,Crohn’s disease ,Asthma ,Ulcers 

Psoriasis, Cystic fibrosis, Heart disease , Addison’s disease, Cancer , Eating sensitvies (like gluten and lactose, I know they aren’t “diseases” but they can be influenced by microbiota) , Lyme disease , Renal diseases , Gout, obesity 

When I compare my response from week 1 to week 10 I can see that one of the main differences is that this week I was able to come up with more concrete examples that came to mind easily. I think during week one I really did not know what “non-infectious” meant because it was something I had never thought to consider as I just saw every disease as a disease.  I think some of the most important topics that I will take away is that what we put into our bodies can impact our overall health. It also doesn’t just affect our gut and digestive system but can play a role in affecting other body systems like our respiratory system and even our eyes as we saw in week 2 and even our mental health.  Also recognizing that parental gut health can play a role in affecting their children as well whether its mothers’ breast milk or parents maybe not including important nutrients in the child’s diet. Also this class really did help me understand scientific articles more. Before in my other classes when we had to look at an article and talk about the results I honestly had no idea what anything meant and I feel confident in my ability to review one now.

Writing Exercise #13:

W.P Hangage addresses five important questions that he urges readers to keep in mind when viewing scientific literature. These questions are to help audience members identify when authors of a certain paper may be exaggerating their findings to seem more important than they truly are (as we’ve seen throughout the term, not all peer reviewed papers are great papers.) One of the first questions he tells readers to keep in mind is “can experiments detect differences that matter?” The significance of this question applies when looking at scientific literature because oftentimes most readers are not too familiar with the methods being used for the study and just assume it is relevant based on what the authors had written. Most experiments with microbial communities work by categorizing which bacteria phyla are present but does that tell us that all bacteria under a certain phyla are bad, or do we have to keep investing further to see?The second question asked is “Does the study show causation or correlation?”. I think this question is very valuable, especially when looking at recent microbial studies. Many readers often confuse correlation and causation and I do think it is one of the most valuable questions to ask. I think this is the most valuable question to ask because as mentioned earlier, lots of experiments work by grouping the bacteria present into their corresponding phyla, but that does not necessarily tell us that bacteria from a specific phylum or even family is the cause for a disease as there is still a large amount of diversity present within a bacteria phylum. The Third question Hangage tells his readers to keep in mind is “What is the mechanism?” which ties in with the second question. After authors claim a relationship whether it is causation or correlation, readers should look in the article for one affects the other. Another question asked is “How much do these experiments reflect reality?” which is a valuable question when discussing microbial communities. Many experiments as Hangage mentions are performed on lab mice which can have very different gut compositions and reactions in comparison to humans, so it is important to keep in mind how applicable each experiment is. “Could anything else explain the results?” is the final question asked and is important because this is where readers should look for any possible design failures or results that perhaps did not fit the data to see if there is a reason they got the results they did.

Writing Exercise #12:

Throughout this term I never really thought about how microbial communities could affect the brain. It has started to make sense how it would affect the gut microbial community and immune system but I never thought about how it could affect one’s brain. I think the microbial community could easily affect the brain by having certain bacterias take refuge there and start to colonize there. I think this would of course affect the brain’s function which is dangerous as the brain is the control center for our body and carries out almost all functions. I think bacteria could also affect the brain’s cognitive function which would affect one’s memory and emotions which could lead to mental health problems. I think the current mental state could affect what one eats that would eventually lead to a dysbiosis of the gut microbiota and affect their health in other ways.

Writing Exercise #11

I feel like I was able to learn a good amount from this peer review process. As the peer reviewer I definitely felt the process was long and had me reviewing the drafts thoroughly especially with the worksheet that was provided. I feel like during the peer review I was worried about writing my comments in a constructive way and hoping that the authors are not going to take offense to it. I thought it was interesting to evaluate how the references were used in the paper. Something this process helped me on was noticing things I did not include in my rough draft such as evidence that goes against my thesis statement. I also feel like I did not explain some of the references I included so I know that can help me strengthen my final draft. The process also showed me some of the things I should not do in my paper and some factors I should look out for such as making sure my paper has transitions that flow together so that my readers will not be confused. Overall I think the process is beneficial to both the revirer and the writer and can help both parties for the final essay .

Writing Exercise #10

I would describe the peer review process as a long process to someone who does not normally read scientific articles. After the research has been conducted and written out the paper will then go to a board of reviews that will determine if they find the information collected in the paper as useful or not and they will determine if it is or is not credible. I would say that a pro to this process is that it helps assure that the information being displayed to the public is relevant and credible (for the most part) and is something that can be further looked into to help us with advancements whether it is technological or medical. It also allows us to see information that has been collected from various parts of the world. For example most of the studies that we have looked at in class have not been based in America but in other countries such as the Netherlands, Finland and Amestadam. I think some of the cons however are that the authors of the paper are not anonymous to the reviewers, because as we discussed in class the reviews can be biased. I think another con is that the author of the paper can also suggest to have certain people review their paper and suggest to not certain people review their paper, which can lead to more biases. I think another con is also how authors do not have to disclose if they have a certain patten for a product they may be writing about.

Writing Exercise #9:

When I think about changes in human behaviors that can lead to a decreased exposure to microbes, the first thing that comes to mind is children that do not get vaccinated. I know some vaccines work by exposing us to a weaker form of the microorganisms so that we could start to build antibodies against it. However in recent years there has been more hesitation on people receiving vaccines based on other media outlets. Another thing I think leads to a decreased exposure to microbes are children not playing outdoors as much as they used too. I remember when I was a child one of the things I used to look forward to was going to the park to have fun and nowadays most children do not go out as often because of new technology, they mostly just stay indoors and watch tv/ play games on their tablets. I know some new mothers have also posted things online that say they do not let others hold or touch their child after birth for a couple months because they believe that their immune systems are too weak and that they could catch germs from family members.  I think this could definitely limit the exposure a newborn would have to microbes. I think not eating a wide variety of foods can also play a role in not gaining exposure to microbes, for instance if someone never includes probiotics in their diet (in a regulated amount) then they aren’t exposing themselves to beneficial bacteria.  Unhealthy diets can also play a part in reducing the diversity of the gut microbiota which we talked about in class. I recently read somewhere that alcohol consumption can also lower the variety of microorganisms in the gut microbiota but I did not look too much into it. I would also assume that physical health and activity could lower someone’s microbiota if they were not healthy.

Writing Exercise #8:

Step 1:

I feel I have learned a lot of interesting things through this term from this class. I thought the mothers pregnancy and its effect on the infant’s microbiome was really cool and interesting. I also found it interesting how our gut microbiota could affect multiple areas of our health such as fetitly and our eyes and contacts.  I also did not know that there was such a correlation between certain diseases like IBD and imbalances of the gut microbiome.  I am still interested in learning about probiotics and antibiotics, and how staying at hospitals could actually pose a greater risk for infection and bacterial resistance. I feel like probiotics is still an awareness I could possibly dive deeper into because I want to know more about them.

Step 2:   I thought the mothers pregnancy and its effect on the infant’s microbiome was really cool and interesting.

Step 3:

I knew from a previous course that mothers shared antibodies with the fetus but I had never considered that pathogens could also be shared with the fetus. I also found it really interesting in class when we discussed how birth delivery had an effect on an infant’s microbiome and how the infant’s diet was not as influenced by breastmilk as I assumed that it would. It does make me wonder if the mothers diet during pregnancy affects the microbiome of an infant. Or what if certain activities affect the microbiome. For example, expecting mothers that do go for walks and stay physically active during their pregnancy vs mothers that do not, does that play a role in affecting the child’s microbiome? I also wonder if mothers who got sick more often than others would make their child’s microbiome more diverse? 

Step 4: After this free write I think I will definitely be doing my paper on certain habits of expecting mothers and how that may play a role in the infants microbiome. I am also curious to see if maybe an age difference between pregnant women would affect the microbiome of their infant. 

Writing Exercise #7:

When I think about things an infant could be exposed to from the mother I think about certain microorganisms from food is one of the first things that comes to mind. For example it is not recommended that pregnant mothers consume raw fish or sushi because the bacteria poses a greater risk to the fetus as they do not have an immune system to protect them from microorganisms. Mothers could also expose their infants to harmful substances such as alcohol and drugs if they are consuming any of that while breastfeeding which is dangerous. Infants could also be exposed to pathogens if the mother is sick through breast milk. Beneficial things that the fetus gets exposed to during pregnancy is the mothers IgG antibodies that are able to cross the placenta. This is beneficial because it helps infants build their immune system and have some sort of immunity when they first enter the world. IgA antibodies are also shared from the mother via breast milk. However, infants can also expose mothers to pathogens through their saliva when breastfeeding, so if an infant does get sick, the mother is also likely to get sick. However I think infants can also share their antibodies via their saliva to aid mothers? (I’m not entirely sure).

Writing Exercise #6:

My personal philosophy with antibiotics is to take them when prescribed. Growing up I never really got too sick and the first time I had gotten prescribed antibiotics (that I can remember) was my senior year of high school when I caught strep throat. During that time I did stop taking the penicillin because I did not pay attention to when the doctor had told me I had finished the entire bottle, and unfortunately the same bacteria got to me and I got sick again. So I would also say that my philosophy includes finishing the full antibiotic treatment. Other than that I did not have too much prior experience with antibiotics, my mom never really had old prescriptions in the house or offered me old prescriptions if I was sick. I also wasn’t very knowledgeable about antibiotics so I never really looked for them when I was younger. I know my grandparents and tias were big on probiotic yogurts and teas for digestive benefits but other than that, my house never really talked about antibiotics.