A friend once told me that my puns were hilarious. Ignoring the sarcasm with which he said this, I decided that the world would be a better place if it shared in my comedy. The result is the title of this blog.

Since my jokes are actually really bad and I intend to be educational, I suppose I should explain my reasoning behind ‘The Cnidae Gritty’. From the Greek ‘knide’, meaning ‘nettle’, cnidae are spring-loaded harpoons that help jellyfish, corals, anemones, and other cnidarians capture prey and defend themselves. Some cnidae actually penetrate other cells (like when you get stung by a jellyfish), while others simply entangle or stick to their target. In short, they’re super cool.

Simple structure of a cnida. For a dramatic animation, watch this video (where they use the word nematocyst instead of cnida – same thing!): http://vimeo.com/37431528

The word is most commonly pronounced ‘nye-dee’, but if Colbert can drop the ‘t’ in ‘report’, then I think I’m entitled to rhyme cnidae with gritty.

My relationship with cnidae themselves is tangential. I am about to finish my first year as a PhD student studying the microbial associates of the coral animal. As I continue my research, I hope to update this blog often with the nitty gritty details of my work and anything else that I find interesting in the world of coral biology. Currently, I am getting ready for a 3.5-month trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, where I’ve got some awesome fieldwork plans. I’ll post some more details in the next month before I go. In the meantime, you can check out my trip blog from last summer, when I went to Tahiti and Mo’orea to study viruses in the South Pacific. That’ll give you an idea of what makes this field so interesting, and I’ve got some cool reef pictures to boot. You can also check out our lab’s webpage for more details about our research and links to our papers, etc.

I’d love to be somewhat interactive with this blog, so if you have any questions, comments, corrections, or criticisms, please post them!

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