Professor Haro von Mogel?

This morning I taught my first class. My adviser skipped town this week to go to a big important meeting, and asked me to teach his plant breeding & biotechnology class for 50 minutes. I gave a lecture on flower biology, pollination methods, and how the former dictates the methods used to do the latter. I got to use some of my videos, and in the big crunch before the class, we got two more pollination methods videos near to completion! I expect that we’ll be uploading them about the end of the month.

I thoroughly enjoyed doing the lecture, and while walking out of the room I thought, you know, I could see myself doing this on a regular basis in the future…

Corn Breeding

The next in my Award-Winning series of plant breeding videos is up at the UW-Madison Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program website. This is the first in a series of videos interviewing plant breeders about what they do and what they like about it. The first breeder up for public scrutiny is professor Bill Tracy, here at UW-Madison, who is also the other PI on the project besides my adviser Shawn. Continue reading Corn Breeding

We won! We won!

I just received notice that one of the videos that I worked on as part of my plant breeding video project has won an award in the 2008 MCAI WAVE Awards competition. We entered the video a couple months ago, and the award ceremony was last week. (I couldn’t go for a number of reasons) The video, recently uploaded to YouTube on the Wisconsin Plant Breeding channel is the UW-Madison Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics recruiting video.

Here are the 2008 WAVE Award winners.

And now for the “award winning” video:



This weekend, I participated in my first Pumpkin Regatta! Organized by Jim Nienhuis and Irwin Goldman of the UW-Madison Horticulture department, it pits students, kids, and sailors alike against each other in a rowing race of giant proportions. Specifically, giant pumpkins. Which you sit inside. And paddle.

Let me see: Boating, Squash, Competition, Horticulture, and Glory. This has just about everything I need to make a Saturday worthwhile. So I hopped down there to volunteer as the first challenger against the Hoofer Sailing Club’s racer, Bridget. Little did my professors (Jim and Irwin) know that I had won a dinghy race against all the other Sea Explorer ships back in high school, so I surprised them with a victory for Horticulture!* Continue reading Victorious!*

Hey that’s my gene!

Ariela and I were picking up a weird tomato plant at the nursery the other day, and I wanted to see if I could find some pole bean seeds. While I was searching the seed racks (unsuccessfully), Ariela noticed a seed package with a bright red ear of corn on it. I remember reading about a new variety of red sweet corn several years ago, it looks like they’ve finally made seeds available for it! I bought them and sprouted them right away – they’re ready to go in the ground tonight for some late-season sweet corn. But that’s not the best part. It’s got my gene. Continue reading Hey that’s my gene!

Pollination Methods – Corn

As I have mentioned on this blog before, in addition to my research on locating a gene in sweet corn, I’m making some educational videos on plant breeding. Well, now I’m proud to be able to show you the first in a whole series of them that I’m putting together. With help from my adviser, two film dudes at the Instructional Media Development Center at UW-Madison, and big bags of doubloons from the USDA. Over the past week, I’ve been updating the Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics Program website, and now it has full video functionality. So armed with the plant breeding website powered by a wordpress platform, I give you the how-to on making controlled pollinations with Zea mays – How to breed corn.

You could actually do this in your own backyard using this system, or if you’re running a breeding company or academic lab and need to train employees on how to do this in the field – here’s what you need to succeed with your breeds.

Video below the fold. Continue reading Pollination Methods – Corn

I’m a scholar now

Wonderful news! I was thrilled to hear about it a couple days ago, though I was too busy to post it then. The graduate school has just seen fit to award me the O.N. Allen Graduate Scholarship this year! Awesome!

Yeah, so the scholarship award was based on my undergraduate record and GRE scores, and my project description. I’m not entirely sure what the history of the award is, but I’ll know soon enough. It’s good to learn about the history of these things. Anyway, I’m not sure when I’ll be getting it, but at some point in the near future I’ll probably have a nice piece of fancy paper with my name on it, and a huge cash windfall to the tune of Continue reading I’m a scholar now

Great Darwin’s Galapagos I got an A?!

Last week, I lamented that I didn’t do very well on my statistics final. Later that same day, the professor sent out an email to the whole class talking about how everyone didn’t do very well on the final, and he would do something about it with the scores. I had an A in the class, running up to the take-home midterm (did not do as well on the take-home), and I was pretty confident that I would do better this semester than last. I was worried, when I took the final, that I would instead do worse this semester on statistics. Well, I just checked my grade and it turns out I’ve got a solid A. Awesomeness. </worry><celebration!>…


I rocked my plant breeding final yesterday afternoon, and today, I have finished my statistics final as well. I’m not sure how well I did on the statistics final, well, because this post was made before I took it. 🙂 If the rest of the semester is any indication, I shouldn’t have a problem.

As of now, I’ll be off to the field to help my lab-mates finish hand-planting some maize seeds. Don’t get the wrong idea, we won’t be breaking our backs stooping out in the field, we’ll have rocking tools like these ones to plant seeds at regular intervals and depths. Still, it takes some time to do, and I expect my afternoon will be taken up.

This evening, I’ll be making some tablecloths for Ariela’s candle operation (site is coming along, going to add pictures and a shopping cart next week), but I expect I’ll have time to read and respond to comments on the Hume/Kant post. For all those out there who are finishing up their finals, or have yet to take them (I’m so glad I’m not on the quarter system!), may mechanistic causality be tweaked in your favor. (Good Luck!)

Update 17:46: Oy! I could have done better on that stats exam, I came out of it worried about my grade. When I met up with classmates who were also doomed to hand-plant (actually it was fun with the camaraderie) we all breathed a sigh of relief that we weren’t the only ones that were doubtful about it. When I got back, an all-class email was in my inbox from the professor – the class average was way down compared to all the other exams. So it sounds like the grades are going to be weighted – Linear Transformation! Linear Transformation! Goodness of fit stays the same, but the numbers become more meaningful! Maybe I’ll get a bonus point for applying the subject of the class to the grade for the class! Didn’t do so bad after all. 🙂

Yeah, like that.

Previously, I mused about my recent busy activities. As if on cue, Jorge Cham of Ph.D. Comics just sketched out what that was like for me.

The Vicious Cycle:

How do they capture grad student life so well and on a daily basis?