During the graduation season, students may wistfully look at their classmates’ success (in school, or in the job market) and imagine that they just aren’t as smart or as lucky. Writer, politician, and professor Charles Wheelan’s book “10 1/2 Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said” gives background into his struggles which have ultimately led to triumph. A diminutive, short book (118 pages on 5×7 inch pages) based on a commencement speech he gave at his alma mater, Dartmouth, it bears reading as students plan for life after college.
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered that large clusters Pseudomonas aeruginosa send out anti-respiration signals to members of the cluster to induce suicide. The dead bacteria then become part of the bacteria’s notoriously tricky antibiotic defense system – its biofilm. While industrial researchers have found that bacterial biofilms have potential as coatings for boats (to decrease fiction moving through the water), the biofilms cause infections to better resist treatment and increase the odds of patient relapse. This bacteria often hits patients hospitalized for an extended time hardest (called nosocomial infection) and also causes infection in particularly moist environments lung and urinary tracts. By understanding the cell suicide mechanism and the chemical responsible for causing it and the resulting biofilm, the hope is that new treatments can be developed to better fight the infection. How might biofilms be actually helpful (where are slick, robust surfaces important)?
Georgetown Univ. computer science professor Cal Newport has written numerous books on how to excel academically – from becoming a straight A student with less effort (he did, at the competitive Ivy League school, Dartmouth), to creating your own successful career (he does, by teaching at Georgetown). One of Prof. Newport’s recommendations bears repeating: “Write outside class”. No matter what your area of study or employment after graduation, you will be well served by being able to write clearly and quickly. Newport suggests spending time writing outside class and this bears repeating and amplification. Whether it be career-focused writing (regular resume revisions, cover letters), blogging about a topic of interest, keeping a journal, or actually writing freelance articles, you will benefit. Writing is difficult, can take years to develop proficiency and is undervalued in school relative to its importance in the workforce. Students may be able to learn how to use a computer in a few weeks, but learning to write well is to develop a craft that cannot occur in weeks or months. What is holding you back in your writing?