Life outside the lab: Scientists in the field take over eLife's Twitter account

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We'd like to say a huge thank you to all of the Labs that participated in the #eLifetakeover.

Here's a recap of the week (a full record of all of the Twitter activity is also available on our Storify account).

Day 1 – The Amboseli Baboon Research Project - Duke University (Durham, USA), Princeton University (Princeton, USA), University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, USA)

Hello from Amboseli Lab

The group gave us a taster of their latest discoveries

Amboseli Lab science

They also shared some of joys and challenges of working in the field conditions

Amboseli Lab in the field
Amboseli camp life
Amboseli Lamb camp life part 2

Day 2 – The Brady Lab - The Rockefeller University (New York, USA)

Hello from Brady Lab

The groups shared an easy-to-understand graph explaining how they discover potential new medicinal drugs in the soil

Brady Lab - discovery scheme

… and were happy to share details about their methods

Brady Lab - methods

Relentless in their search for new antibiotics, they called for more participants in their project

Brady Lab - call for participants

And shared what makes the work worthwhile

Brady Lab - refection on the value of their work

Day 3 – The Baldwin Lab - Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (Jena, Germany)

The Baldwin Lab group greeted everyone from their laboratory in Jena, Germany

They went on to boast of their courage in the field

Forest fire

… and challenged all to spot critters on their plants:

Crtitters challenge

Indiscreetly, the Baldwin Lab shared with all some intimate details from the lives of their plants

Baldwin Lab and the intimate lives of plants

And provided a glimpse into molecular ecology experimental work

Experiments in the Baldwin Lab

Day 4 – Team MacLean - The Sainsbury Laboratory (Norwich, UK)

We heard the goal of the group and how they go about grappling it:

Goals of the MacLean Group
Collecting samples - MacLean group

MacLean’s group invited everyone to join in the effort to save ash trees:

Invitation to Fraxinus

They spoke to the importance of citizen science, saying that the human eye is sometimes better than algorithms in spotting suspicious genes:

Man vs machine performance in Fraxinus


See what life is like in the field next week, as researchers studying baboon behavior on the plains of Kenya, digging up antibiotics in the forests of Brazil, examining plant biodiversity in Germany, and using Facebook to beat a disease threatening trees across Europe take over the eLife Twitter account to share their perspectives.

Join us on Twitter next week, July 13 - 16. Follow along and ask the researchers about their work on Twitter at #eLifetakeover.

The schedule and details of the type of work done by each group are below.

This is the second Twitter Takeover at eLife. Learn about what it’s like to work at different labs around the world in a round-up of 2013’s Look inside the lab.


MONDAY 13/07/15 The Amboseli Baboon Research Project - Duke University (Durham, USA), Princeton University (Princeton, USA), University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, USA)

The Amboseli Baboon Research Project (ABRP) is a long-term study of yellow baboons,Papio cynocephalus, in Kenya, just north of Mt Kilimanjaro. The ABRP has observed these animals on a near-daily basis since 1971, focusing on the interplay between behavior and demography, aging, genetics/genomics, physiology, parasitology and microbiology. Run out of Duke, Princeton, and Notre Dame, four coordinating labs study the wild baboons, observing them with the aim of understanding how their social behavior influences health, survival, and evolutionary fitness.

TUESDAY 14/07/15 The Brady Lab - The Rockefeller Univer sity (New York, USA)

The Brady Lab focuses on harnessing the biosynthetic diversity of nature. For example, recently they have been analysing soil samples from across the world with the hope of finding the starting points for new medicinal drugs. They’ve found that populations of soil-dwelling bacteria living in different locations around the world produce largely unexplored natural compounds that could have the potential to become drug therapies.

WEDNESDAY 15/07/15 The Baldwin Lab - Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (Jena, Germany)

The Baldwin Lab are genome-enabled field biologists. They compare plants differing in single genes and measure their interactions in their native habitat, they also construct populations of plants varying in individual genes. They then ask the plants and the wildlife that interacts with them – both beneficial and detrimental – to tell us what the ecological functions of these genes are, by showing us how they respond differently to, or perform differently in, plants and populations varying in the expression of those genes.

THURSDAY 16/07/15 Team MacLean - The Sainsbury Laboratory (Norwich, UK)

This group focuses on the boundary between genomic biology and computer science, using these research areas to make the most of big data in order to answer big questions.

As part of these efforts they have developed a Facebook game, called Fraxinus, that harnesses individual brain power to discover genetic variants that could help in the fight against a disease that attacks trees across the world. Players match on-screen patterns and act as a ‘crowd-sourced’ processor in an organic computer made up of living participants of the game.