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Meet Dr Siouxsie Wiles at SkepchickCon

SkepchickCon 2014 takes place at CONvergence a sci-fi/fantasy conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Doubletree in Bloomington, July 3-6, 2014.

Skepchick is proud to help organize the science track at this event and over the coming weeks I’d like to introduce you to some of the brilliant and talented people you can meet if you attend.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to microbiologist Dr Siouisie Wiles!

Dr Siouxsie Wiles describes herself as a microbiologist and bioluminescence enthusiast but to others she is “the pink haired scientist”. SiouxieHead of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Siouxsie combines her twin passions to understand infectious diseases.

In a nutshell, Siouxsie and her team make nasty bacteria glow in the dark. Siouxsie is also interested in demystifying science for the general public, and raising awareness of the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

She is a blogger, podcaster and radio science commentator, and has also teamed up with Australian graphic artist, Luke Harris, and his team to make short animations describing nature’s amazing glowing creatures and the many uses of bioluminescence in science. In 2013, Siouxsie was awarded the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Prize for Science Media Communication and the Royal Society of New Zealand Callaghan Medal for her efforts.

Last year at SkepchickCON one of our most popular activities was a bio-luminescent workshop event held in the “Sandbox.” The Sandbox is an interactive room set up to encourage hands-on participation in various creative fields. We of course, want to foster an understanding of science and we often use art to help communicate those complex messages. One Sandbox activity that brilliantly combined the fields of art and science was run by Dr Siouxsie Wiles and allowed kids and adults to “paint (or draw) with glowing bacteria.” It was fantastic and we want to do it again!

I asked Siouxie to explain the project:

Off the coast of Hawaii lives an amazing nocturnal predator with a cunning trick for hiding itself from predators and prey. The Hawaiian bobtail squid has its very own invisibility cloak made of glowing bacteria. In this workshop you’ll learn more about this amazing partnership and others like it, as well as get to draw using glowing bacteria.

Here is a mesmerizing time lapse video of bio-luminescent bacteria growing on a petri dish over four days. Video produced and edited by Siouxsie Wiles and Rebecca Klee.

And here is a beautifully animated video written and narrated by Dr Wiles that teaches about the Hawaiian bobtail squid and how it uses its glowing bacteria.

Want to learn MORE and play with some glowing bacteria yourself? Go to SkepchickCon!

As you may know, I am raising money to buy some passes for people to attend SkepchickCON and Convergence. If you would like to add your name to the hat to maybe get a free pass just click here and add your name to that comment section. If you would like to donate to help pay for admission for people click here and scroll down to the donate link.

You can also buy a Surly-Ramics “I love science” necklace to help as well.
love sci gree 1

As of the writing of this post I have raised enough to buy TWO passes. I will start announcing winners soon!

“Glowing Squid” image courtesy of Dr Siouxie Wiles.

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Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics. She is the fearless leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+. Tip Jar is here.

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