The best reads, literary and scientific, for the hottest months

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A Day at the Beach


A poem

Gustave Moreau, Helen on the Ramparts of Troy

“the day the Greeks marched off to Troy, their minds

fixated on the war and violence.

They made my face the cause that hounded them.”

-The Odyssey Lines 4.142–145, trans. Emily Wilson

“shameless bitch”

-The Odyssey, Line 4.145b, trans. Anthony Verity

My parents do not have BAs, so there

is no way they could know that Helen wore

a dog-like face. The beauty of cold steel.

A dangerous kind that hounds the world to war.

My parents bought a “naming book” for me

and ran their fingers over every page.

Until they stopped on dog-eared Ellie (Greek):

the world’s most…


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In 2009, physicians in Tokyo identified a novel organism in the ear discharge of a 70-year-old patient. Genetic analysis revealed that the organism was a fungus of the genus Candida. In most healthy adults, Candida albicans exists within the microbiome that calls our mouth and gastrointestinal tract home. So long as this home remains undisrupted, C. albicans does little to disrupt us. This yeast, however, was not C. albicans. In fact, this yeast had never been identified before. The yeast was eventually named Candida auris, from the Latin word for ear.

In the next decade, C. auris would be found…


Fiction

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The first time I made the drive from Austin to Denton, I was sixteen and swore I would never do it again. It became quickly apparent that while the roads around these two cities glowed in neat concentric circles, the 250 miles of pavement between them was left to rot like detritus. My car shivered as it pushed off the crumbling gravel for the entire five hours. On top of that, the cars around me were no longer friendly luxury Fiats or peaceful granola Subarus, but rather macho Mac trucks who honked at me for going too slow even if…


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This is a rapidly evolving situation. The document will be updated as quickly as possible, but it may be slightly inaccurate.

I include organizations that are currently operating and asking for support. Some organizations are completely shut down and do not have the capacity to operate even with donations; it is important to do your research before donating.

Organizations that are Asking for Donations:

Animal Shelters

Austin Pets Alive: although power is back on, they need help to get a plumber to fix pipe leakages and restore water supply.

Austin Boxer Rescue: need help transporting animals from their flooded facility…


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You would think with all the copious free time 2020 gave me that I would have been able to spend some of it in some enjoyable reads. Alas, between doomscrolling and Zoom classes that time seemed to slip away like sand in the wind. I knew that I wanted to read more in 2021. If January works out like the rest of the year, I’m hopeful to surpass my modest goal of reading 15 books FOR MY OWN ENJOYMENT this year. Textbooks and Instagram captions don’t count anymore.

How I Read 5+ Books in a Month

Disclaimer: this may not…


Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

Picture an uncontrollable public health crisis. Think of the front page of a newspaper shouting “Nation’s Top Doctors and Scientists Stand at Odds with President.” If you envisioned the state of America in 2020, you would be in the majority. However, in modern American history, this practical dichotomy between scientist and politician started long before 2020. In fact, government scientists have long used their modest platforms to contradict executive statements and promote what they believe is a sound health policy.

One such position is that of America’s Surgeon General. Unlike Dr. Anthony Fauci’s position at the National Institutes of Health…


Fiction

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Lisa loved Nonna’s house on summer afternoons. Just a sniff of sweet, bubbling marinara could take her back to her customary position at the right side of the living-room couch. If Nonna was awake, Lisa could passively listen to a recitation of Nonna’s life story. Should the calmness of the day put Nonna to sleep, Lisa could always entertain herself by poring over a needlepoint catalog or a yellowed copy of Nancy Drew.

“Put the book down, Lisa. Zip up your coat, we’re heading inside.”

Nonna’s house on Thanksgiving didn’t carry that same magical aura. Maybe the house felt too…


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In the winter of 2013, Dr. Rolf Hilgenfeld and Dr. Malik Peiris published an overview of the rise and fall of SARS research in Antiviral Research. The paper begins with an optimistic summary of antiviral treatments that began development, but its summary falls into eulogy once the reader realizes few of the most promising innovations ever made it to human testing. After SARS infections dropped to zero (among humans), fears of a deadly foreign illness turned over to the next eye-catching headline of the season. Interest in funding for SARS research tapered and closed. …


A short story in honor of the awakening COVID-19 vaccination campaign, and the course of events to follow

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

For the record, Maria thought her family was going to a Halloween party at the community center, and she had her Elsa costume on to prove it. In fact, it did have the faint glow of a party given proper five-year-old imagination. Sure, the man dressed as the local grocery store mascot known as H-E-Buddy could be seen as a clown dressed like a stuffed brown sack and giving out coupons instead of candy. The open square of lawn could be a…

Ellie Rose Mattoon

Johns Hopkins undergraduate passionate about infectious disease, stories, and making the perfect lemon souffle. Always open to write pieces, contact by PM.

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