There are times when I ask myself why I chose a career in science. This happens on what I call “grass is greener” days. On these days I dream of other careers—like National Geographic reporter or Caribbean tour guide–which all sound way more exciting than scientist. Admittedly these alternative careers are not ones that many people have the privilege of attaining, but sometimes reality gets to take a vacation. Fortunately, science is a fast-moving, always-changing field. As much as I might occasionally dream of exotic jobs in far away locations, science always pulls me back in with something new and unexpected. Because as much as we’d like to think we know, the truth is there is so much more that we don’t.
As a scientist and a jewelry artist, there are not that many occasions when my two passions overlap. As a geneticist, I find the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistant microbes to be fascinating in a “this is really cool and utterly terrifying” sort of way. As a jewelry artist, I love experimenting with new and different metals. Some of my current favorites are stainless steel, copper and bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin. So you might be able to imagine my excitement when I came across an article in mBio discussing the public health implications of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) of antibiotic resistance genes on clinical and public touch surfaces made from copper alloys compared to those made of stainless steel (1).
Stainless steel: The unexpected, gene-transferring truth