Episode Summary

Proteus mirabilis is a common cause of Urinary Tract Infections. These bacteria are found within the gastrointestinal tract, but they are sometimes able to ascend the urinary tract and cause bladder infections. One of the amazing attributes of Proteus is its ability to crawl across Petri dishes, referred to as swarming. Dr. Karine Gibbs is an associate professor at Harvard University who studies Proteus mirabilis and its ability to cause urinary tract infections.

Dr. Gibbs talks about how the bacteria interact with their neighbors using both a sword to kill adversaries as well as a handshake to communicate with friends, how bacteria can recognize their own progeny and coordinate social behaviors, why Harvard is like a candy store for scientists, and how a high school summer research program led her to a career in science.

The microCase for listeners to solve is about Rosetta Stone, a Peace Corps volunteer who comes down with a mysterious illness while on assignment in Tanzania.


  • Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Karine Gibbs, Ph.D. (Harvard University)
  • Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Jesus Romo, Ph.D. (UTSA)

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