In my case, there was a the usual – I ordered DNA primers, sequenced some DNA, went through that sequence and assembled it into my model… I cooked some dinner, slept some. But last week was punctuated with something a little different.
Monday morning, the first new episode of my old radio show The Inoculated Mind Radio and Mindcast, aired on the local Madison student station, WSUM. The show was pre-recorded the week before, because I was not going to be in Madison to do it live.
The same day, I was visiting the San Francisco Bay Area with Anastasia, zooming around the City, meeting up with PZ Myers, and oh yeah – having dinner with Michael Pollan at Chez Panisse! My review is up, as well as Anastasia’s.
As for the show, I used to host the Mindcast here on this blog, however, I have built a completely new site called Inoculated Media dedicated to hosting the show. Continue reading What did you do last week?
Previously, I asked my readers to come on over to Biofortified, my new home for all things transgenic, and vote for it in the Ashoka Changemakers GMO Risk or Rescue contest. Due to a large amount of support from the science blogging community, we gathered over 800 votes, winning the contest by more than a 2 to 1 margin! Read more about it here. Now I’m enjoying a nice reward of oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips, early-season candy canes, and writing a paper due tomorrow. No rest for the weary!
I have a special request to ask of you, dear readers, that will take only a couple minutes of your time but will totally make my day. My Biofortified group blog I started last year with Anastasia Bodnar, Pam Ronald, David Tribe, etc, has been entered into an online contest hosted by Ashoka Changemakers. If we win, we get a $1,500 grant to help run the site, and a conversation with Michael Pollan. (I’ve been trying to get an interview with him for the Mindcast for 3 years!)
We’re at 23 votes right now, the top entry is currently at 34 (and hasn’t budged much in the last month), but a new entry might be a challenge because it comes from an organization of sixty or more people by itself. So I could really use your votes!
The contest website is a little counter-intuitive and people have gotten lost in it, but thankfully our blog mascot Frank N. Foode wrote a detailed step-by-step post on how to do it.
And for those who are worried about giving out your email address and getting more junk mail in your inbox, if you check a box on the registration form you will not have any problems. The voting ends in one week, so there’s not much time left. If you know of anyone who might be willing to pitch in and help, please spread the word! If you blog, please do! You’ll be in my list of people to thank publicly for helping us to make a bigger and better online forum for talking about genetic engineering in agriculture.
One thing to keep in mind is that voting for Biofortified is not a vote for genetic engineering – it is a vote for dialogue in a forum built to handle this important discussion. None of the other contending entries are about dialogue but are instead about trying to eliminate or stigmatize the technology. Our entry – our site – is about bringing science and scientists and the public together to get people talking and learning in both directions. If you think this is a good idea, please go on over and vote. 🙂
Thanks for your time, and hope that mechanistic causality works in our favor!
The Big Event that everyone has been waiting for is here: Michael Pollan is going to be in Madison, Wisconsin, speaking about food and diet and word has it he will be bringing his rose-colored glasses!
There are several events where Pollan will be the big cheese:
Thursday at 7 pm at the Kohl Center, he will be giving a talk to what will likely be a packed auditorium. His talk is called The Omnivore’s Solution. I’ve been dying to find out what Omnivores can be dissolved in.
His talk is part of a campus-wide project called Go Big Read. I know, the name is lame. But they put thousands of copies of Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, in the hands of students in many disciplines. From sociology to nutrition and political science, the idea is to get students in many different fields talking about the same thing from different angles.
There is a blog on the Go Big Read site, and they were taking question submissions for Pollan, a handful of which will be selected. I submitted a question, along with Ariela. Continue reading Michael Pollan in Madison
Right now, the moment this post has become available on the blog, I will be sound asleep. After 26 straight days of getting up early to make controlled pollinations with corn plants, I, along with a dozen and a half of my fellow field crewmates, are enjoying our first weekend day off. This field season has not been too bad, though, perhaps the most enjoyable of the three that I have experienced.
Could I be getting used to this whole plant breeder thing? Am I finally able to get to sleep at a reasonable time with regularity so that I’m not tired and groggy all day? Or am I instead sticking to a rigorous schedule of washing my long-legged and sleeved field clothes and applying sunscreen religiously every day while also wearing a wide-brimmed hat to keep from toasting my outer layer of cells with UV radiation? The answer to all these questions is Continue reading Finito! Sort of…
I’m back in Madison from the 51st Maize Genetics Conference, which was full of wholesome scientific goodness. It was also a great opportunity to finally meet Anastasia Bodnar from Genetic Maize, and discuss everything about communicating plant genetics, from common arguments to the cool nitty gritty scientific details that make this topic something really fun to learn about by itself. Anastasia is great and it was a delight to spend the conference with her – here’s to a long and productive future of cooperative blogging!
We also met another blogger at the conference, James Schnable from James and the Giant Corn. Here are the three of us hanging out near the posters.
Hey who’s that little guy with us? And what cool stuff did we learn and talk about at the meeting? What video interviews, audio conversations, and pictures did we bring back? Keep an eye on Biofortified for details.
Today, I’m driving (or riding in) a van full of fellow graduate students to St. Charles, Illinois, an easy 2.25 hour drive from Madison. Contrast that with the flight to Washington D.C. last year. That’s right, I’m going to the 51st Maize Genetics conference! I’ve got some recording equipment with me and a good digital camera, but I have no plans to do a podcast of the conference like I did last year. I have a couple ideas up my sleeve to be revealed at a later date. I’m looking forward to finally meeting Anastasia at the meeting, too. Check Biofortified for updates.
My new post is up at Biofortified, discussing Hawai’is curious relationship with GE. Here’s a taste:
Hawai’i is a remote archipelago of islands with a declining sugar industry. The new expanses of open acreage are now being filled with GE crop trials, and controversy.
- PRSV-Resistant Papaya
The University of Hawai’i produced the first GE Papaya resistant to Papaya Ringspot Virus, which grows there today (and even surrounds and protects organic plots of Papaya), and is currently investigating several other crops and their potential for improvement. Those efforts have been put in jeopardy recently as the council of the big island of Hawai’i banned the growing of GE taro and coffee with no allowance for continued academic research.
So if this was about helping Hawai’ian farmers defend themselves against Monsanto and worried coffee consumers, why was there no provision to allow University GE research on the big island of Hawai’i?
Read the rest here.
I mentioned before that something seemed to be different about the science blogging world. Several genetic-engineering-centric blogs have cropped up, bringing some in-depth discussion of this field to the internet. In a discussion with someone else online, they suggested – wouldn’t it be great if there was a group of scientists who could respond to news about GE crops? I’ve had similar thoughts as well.
Well after a month or two of work, I’ve built a home for such a group, and invited some blogging scientists to contribute. Behold: The Biofortified Blog!
The scientists we have so far are Continue reading The Biofortified Blog
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!*