WHAT IS the first thing that comes to mind when one hears the word “micro-organisms”? Most people associate it with, “kitanu” or germs.
A seemingly difficult scientific area, but can these concepts and misconceptions about micro-organisms be explained in laymen terms? Why do people study these organisms and do extensive research, is what the new ‘Microbial Science Outreach Initiative’, launched on Tuesday, is aiming to answer.
In a unique attempt to demystify the complex community of microbes, a team of students, led by Dr Yogesh Shouche, who is in charge at the National Centre for Microbial Resource (NCMR), has introduced ‘Microb(e)logging’.
NCMR works under the Department of Biotechnology’s National Centre for Cell Science.
Spearheaded by Shouche’s students, the initiative was launched by Professor Samir Brahmachari, former director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Shouche told The Indian Express, “The aim was to spread the joy of science.” Core team members of the initiative — Shreyas Kumbhare and Abhijit Kulkarni — are currently pursuing PhD at NCCS and said blogs, live interviews with scientists, documentary screenings were part of their outreach initiative.
The duo pointed out that the blogs were aimed at spreading the story of microbes associated with complex life forms, such as humans and plants. “The language of science is academic but it tells the truth. But this truth is often misinterpreted and leads to wrong/ ill-informed notions. This is our attempt to demystify this language for a better appreciation for these little creatures,” they said.
“It’s all about microbes” — blogs will cover topics, ranging from the basics of human microbiome, or the basics of microorganisms in human beings, to any Indian’s favourite topic- food, here, specifically, Indian fermented food. These blogs will also cover topics like hypothesis about hygiene, probiotics, lifestyle associated diseases, abuse of antibiotics, maternal and early stage healthcare, diet, biodegradation in cleaning the environment, and water resources and our responsibility in keeping them clean.
Shouche said the blogs were dedicated to creating awareness about microbial science among people, by translating the scientific knowledge into laymen terms.
Brahmachari said researchers should find innovative ways to engage the public through popular talks and informal discussions where matters of public health and science can be shared and talked about without the hard academic language. The initiative aims at bridging this gap and providing a platform where scientific ideas are discussed and understood.
A special screening of a documentary — Seven Wonders of the Microbe World — by the Open University, Berlin, was also held on the occasion.