National Geographic

Today’s Microbiology Class Will Be At the Tattoo Parlor (Science Ink Sunday)

SalmonellaJonathan Kurtz writes, “I started graduate school four years ago, studying the immune responses to chronic Salmonella infection in mice, similar to typhoid fever in humans.

“My project developed into defining how infections are combated in different anatomical locations and the host/microbial factors dictate these responses. I am scheduled to do my post-graduate studies with a collaborator of ours, so that I may stay in the Salmonella field, studying what is now a lifetime love/interest/career.

“There are few things in my life that have had greater impact in my life than Salmonella. Therefore, I thought it’d only be appropriate to have a permanent reminder. I quickly decided I wanted it placed on my inside ankle. The problem was finding the right person for the job. Once I found an artist willing to tattoo it (Scott Barbier at Electric Ladyland in New Orleans), we went back and forth about an accurate versus an artistic representation of Salmonella. Scott decided to freehand the tattoo on my ankle.

“While nervous at first, I was very pleased with his conturing of the peritrichous flagella around the natural curves of my ankle. As any good artist, Scott wanted to add more details and begun tattooing what to him were dots, but to me were outer membrane porins or pili. He also decided to shade the cell wall core.

“I could not have been happier with the results. Throughout the process, I discovered that this tattoo was the oddest one that he–or the store, for that matter–had ever tattooed before. This of course led to many artists popping their heads in the room with eager eyes to witness my developing tattoo. I certainly felt like I was a unique spectacle, so I shared a few different fun facts about Salmonella with them as they watched. The whole experience added to my personal love of Salmonella and my tattoo. Now what to get tattooed next!”

You can see the rest of the Science Tattoo Emporium here and in Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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