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I’m the first to admit that I’m not very comfortable in a laboratory. In fact, in my very first meeting with an entomologist he corrected my pronunciation of the word “laboratory”, so it’s obviously not the place I’m most familiar with! Nevertheless, I’ve been spending more and more time in there as experiments have started to pick up, so I’m less likely to forget my lab shoes and more likely to get sniffy when people ask if I’m doing real science.

8 days ago, when some colleagues ran into a problem which I first encountered in my pilot experiment (damn beetles won’t walk on smooth plastic to pick up pathogens), I was confident enough to suggest a possible household solution (all the best solutions to lab problems come from home). Those flexible plastic chopping boards are cheap, and probably supply enough traction for the beetles to go for a wander and pick up spores. Today I’ve cut circles to place in the bottom of petri dishes, and we’ll see in the next bioassay whether the beetles respond.

It doesn’t seem like much, but I can’t imagine having the confidence to suggest such a thing to my colleagues even a few weeks ago, so it’s a small victory, worth celebrating.

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