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Duke University’s Lawrence David, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, shares in Science News about what inspires him in science and life, and how his research into bacterial communities started with a year-long analysis of the microbiomes collected from his own body.

David is a lead faculty of a group called the Triangle Microbial Ecology Supergroup (Tri-MSG), one of 18 recipients last year of Duke’s new Intellectual Community Planning grant.

Tri-MSG organizes meetings outside of regular work hours for microbial ecologists to gather and discuss their research. The gatherings provide an informal atmosphere for learning about colleagues’ scientific endeavors and resources that may spark future cross-institutional collaborations.

The small planning grant helped in growing the fledgling group further. The funds supported refreshments and supplies at the gatherings, which not only attracted more attendees, but encouraged those who came to stay longer and discuss more. At least one research collaboration has emerged from the gatherings, and the group has its sights set on federal funding opportunities—such as the recently launched National Microbiome Initiative—for collaborative microbiome research in the North Carolina Biotech Triangle.

The Intellectual Community Planning grant is funded by the Provost in collaboration with the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. It is again being offered this year. Deadline for proposals is Monday, October 17.