Frequently Asked Questions
How did you get your job?
I followed Route 2 of this certification process: http://www.ascp.org/certification#tabs-1
What credentials do you have?
The letters I have behind my name are M(ASCP)cm, which means I’m certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathology as a scientist in the area of Microbiology. The little “cm” stands for “credential maintenance” which means I’m required to do continuing education to keep my certification.
Where does the fungus in your photos come from?
Most of the specimens that grow the fungus in my photos are from respiratory, skin, or nail sites on a patient. They come from the sinuses, are coughed up, or collected via scrapings and clippings of the skin and nails.
How do you get your photos?
The specimens are placed on appropriate growth media (aka. fungus food in petri dishes). I check the petri dishes for growth over an incubation period of 28 days. If something fuzzy grows in the dish (think about the fuzzy green stuff on bread), I examine it on a glass slide under the microscope.
The most common method I use for this is called a “scotch tape prep.” Using the sticky side of scotch tape, I touch the fuzzy growths (aerial hyphae) in the petri dish. I then lay the tape over a stain that preserves the structures of the organisms and allows them to be viewed under the microscope. I then use my iphone to take a picture through the ocular lens of the microscope. I don’t have any fancy attachments or cameras for my scope.
I really like your photos. May I use them for my own purposes?
I work really hard to capture unique and aesthetically pleasing images. If you share my image on social media, please tag me in the photo or list me as the photo credit in your caption (@chaetomium.queen). If you like a particular image and would like to use it in a publication, please email me.
Why are your photos always blue?
The stain that is used to preserve the structures of the fungi and view them under the microscope is called “lactophenol cotton blue.” And it’s blue, so…yep. I’ve never worked in a facility that uses anything else. I like green, though! Green would be cool. But all I have is blue.
Are your photos a HIPAA violation?
My photos do not contain any patient information, patient specimens, or information that may identify a patient. My photos only show organisms.
Are any of your prints for sale?
No. Since most of these organisms were found inside of real people I wouldn’t feel right about it. Perhaps if I start working with environmental isolates or purchase my own strains?
I think a mold is making me sick or I think I have fungus growing on part of my body. Can you give me medical advice?
No. I am not a medical doctor. I specialize in identifications only, not treatment. You’ll likely need to start by scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician if you’re in the US, who will then refer you to a specialist if necessary.
There’s mold growing in my home. Can you tell me how to get rid of it?
No. I don’t have any experience working with mold environmentally. If you’re unable to contain the situation yourself via means you’ve found on google, your best bet is to find a mold remediation specialist in your area.