Moselio Schaechter

  • The purpose of this blog is to share my appreciation for the width and depth of the microbial activities on this planet. I will emphasize the unusual and the unexpected phenomena for which I have a special fascination... (more)

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July 16, 2012

Blog Evolution


by Elio


Merry notes: I first stumbled across STC
when reading a book by Elio’s friend,
Lynn Margulis, in which she mentioned
the ectosymbionts of Euplotidium.
Googling for that critter by name brought
me to Elio’s 2007 post about this hand-
some ciliate.

I am sorry and sad that Merry will have to relinquish her partnership in this blog. She has been oxygen to me. Besides the fact, evident to readers of this blog, that she is a remarkably gifted writer, are less visible attributes. She has been an imaginative and creative editor, a critic of the scene, and a keeper of this blog’s moral compass. Beyond that, she is someone with whom I have discussed matters with trust and the knowledge that she will provide deep insights. I have seldom if ever had such a friend in science. I’ll try to soldier on, but it won't be the same.

 Our story is indeed unusual. After an initial flurry of emails, starting about 5½ years ago, we somewhat timorously began a Skype (audio only!) exchange that at least served us to become acquainted with the timbre of one another’s voice. And so it has stood—we have not seen each other in person yet. For all our reliance on media, we have developed a unique working relationship, where we acted symbiotically, respected our foibles and relied on the other for important as well as simpler judgments. It goes beyond that. In a short span of time, Merry has become a seasoned microbiologist, especially when it comes to the viruses. Her understanding is stunning, her perspicacity, dizzying. I will miss her companionship.

My thanks, Merry.


by Merry

I had no idea. Five-plus years ago I knocked on the virtual door of the blog and Elio invited me in. If I’d had a crystal ball that showed me what these five years would bring, I’d not have believed it. It is still hard to believe.

At first I timidly proofread Elio’s posts, then started tweaking the layout of the published articles. Soon we found that I could relieve him of some of the inevitable rewriting without distorting his message, and I even enjoyed doing this! After all, not only do I take pleasure in finding the right words, but I was getting an education in microbiology and in writing from one who knows both well. One of the most valued things he has taught me is how to find the story in a detailed research paper and then retell it in a digestible written form. I intend to express my appreciation for this gift in the very best way, that is by using what he has taught me as I continue to use written words to speak for The Small Things.

Another of Elio’s qualities was key to both my arrival at the blog and my enthusiastic participation. Some years before I discovered STC, I had read an essay by him in a microbiology textbook, one of perhaps twenty written by researchers in the field telling students something about what it is like to be a microbiologist. I remembered only his. Only he spoke with respect and appreciation for the microbes he studied. That attitude continues to infuse STC and sets it apart from the numerous other microbiology blogs.

Step by step, he encouraged me to participate in more aspects of the blog, authoring posts and then joining him in the masthead as co-blogger. Many other opportunities also came to me through his mentoring and sharing. I know he will miss me now, as I will miss him.

Also five years ago I had no idea that post-polio syndrome would ever take such a chunk out of my time and my energy, and surely not this soon. Back then I was still moving lava rocks by the ton, mixing concrete, and tending a large veggie garden that climbed up the mountainside. Today it is time for me to become STC’s first Blogger Emeritus. My work here will be completed at the end of August.

On the other hand, Elio is still going strong, and ASM is ever more committed to supporting STC. I know I will enjoy visiting STC for many years to come. Elio will never run out of fascinating microbial stories to share.

from her lava tube on the Big Island


My sincere thanks for the many heartfelt comments posted here. I want to emphasize, though, that while I will no longer be able to dedicate the hours to the blog that I have done over these years, I will still be around. Emeritus does not mean extinct. I will continue to do a little editing for Elio, write occasional posts, kibitz from time to time, and simply enjoy visiting the blog and watching its evolution continue.

Nature abhors a vacuum. I have been delighted to see that skillful, enthusiastic, and dedicated people have already stepped up to work with Elio and ensure the ongoing excellence of STC. I look forward to the posts that lie ahead.


I am fairly new to the blog, about two years,but it has been immensely
enriching for me.All the best to Merry and Elio.

Indrani from India.

This is my favorite blog and I check it daily. I will miss you Merry. You and Vincent might be interested in calling us, as we clinically manage folks sick from the microbes. They're crafty and go after our VDR.

Many thanks for your work in this very interesting blog, Mary. I have always found your contributions and comments a pleasure to read because they showed a deep understanding and great love for microbiology. Keep well.

Is it possible to miss a friend I have never actually met in person? It's true, where Merry Youle is concerned. There are many wonderful scientists. A bevy of fine writers. A large number of great human beings. But in the Venn Diagram of life, there are very, very few people who qualify at that particular intersection. Merry, you are one such person.

You did mention: "...Some years before I discovered STC, I had read an essay by him (Elio) in a microbiology textbook, one of perhaps twenty written by researchers in the field telling students something about what it is like to be a microbiologist. I remembered only his...." Perhaps you will point us to that essay, Merry?

And I sincerely hope to hear your voice on this blog, and elsewhere, in the future. If nothing else, this reminds me to make the climb up the volcano soon, and say "hello" in person. I truly appreciate your counsel and wise words. And you have taught me to appreciate eukaryotic microbes and viruses more!

As I wrote on Twitter: I like Merry as much as I like microbes. Thanks for all you have done on this blog and elsewhere.

Thanks you so much for your kind and thoughtful comment regarding Merry. I'll move on, but it won't be the same.


Dear Merry,
Your contributions will be missed! You have set the standard of excellence. You have taught us well on how to author and edit a science blog... above all make it approachable, not too long and pictures are good in so far as they add to the story! These are but three of the guiding principals I try to bring to each of my contributions to TWiM (pictures are hard when its only audio, but I try). I only wish I had the time to devote to writing. Take care and on behalf of the countless microbiologists, causal observers of microbiology and future life scientists, THANK YOU. Together with Elio, Small Things Considered has set the standard from which all others will be measured!

Thanks for all your work, Merry, and good luck with the after-effects of the virus I have worked on all my career.

Thank you again Merry for your many contributions to this blog in editing, writing, and spirit. You'll be missed, but I look forward to see what new projects you'll now be able to undertake and subjects you'll be able to illuminate for us in your future writings. And enjoy some needed rest!

I am sad to see you go Merry and I wish you the best of luck. Your discovery of Small Things Considered 5 years ago and willingness to reach out and engage Elio and ASM with your scientific insights, strong writing and editing skills, and not to mention technical prowess, has been nothing short of amazing. It's the kind of relationship with a reader, and later a colleague, that a blogger (and the organization that supports the blog) can only dream about. It has been a wonderful and most rewarding ride and we will miss you immensly. Thank you again for your hard work, dedication and drive. You're irreplaceable.

Dear Merry & Elio,

I've been following this blog for years, and Merry's contribution will certainly be missed. Live long and prosper on your lava island, Merry!


(I once wrote "I'm not a Star-Trek fan"; well, that's not true anymore...)

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