And the winner is…

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!

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Please vote for us!

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!

Enjoying my 3-day weekend

I’m two-thirds the way through my 3-day weekend, and I’m loving it. Plenty of time to work on stuff in and around the house, write furiously, and make grand plans for the near future. Yesterday I finished digging out a trench to add some drainage to a planter, and I got a start on a scratching post for the cat. Today I will be painting a bee table and putting a second coat on some recently-bare concrete, and maybe a little filming if I can fit it in. Lots of things related to the Haus Haro von Mogel to keep me busy.

But there’s something else I’ve been busy with as well. Over the last few days I have written a few posts about genetic engineering over at Biofortified:

I have a pile more to write, some half-finished in drafts, but they are taking a backseat position to an entry I am writing for th Ashoka Changemakers. They’ve got a contest about educating the public about genetic engineering, and although they have gone to a great effort for this contest, but as I point out here, there are a couple issues. Nevertheless I’ll make a showing later, but first, a bucket of paint and a powerdrill awaits!

Finito! Sort of…

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…

The Way I see it

A few days ago, field pollination season started for the field corn labs at UW-Madison. At first, it’s out in the field every day at 8 am, next week it will be 7 am, and no one goes home until everything is done. For new grad students, the first summer pollination season can be quite the shock. Last year, in addition to our own nurseries, we had a huge field known as the NAMs (Nested Association Mapping) that made field season seem interminable.

This year I have about 560 rows of plants to manage, which isn’t a lot when you get down to it.

Anyway, this morning, however, I’m up at the crack of dawn to dilute something in the lab before heading out to the field. It has to mix in a shaker for a good two hours before I get out there at the regular time. Many people would be annoyed at leaving the lab at 6 pm only to be back in less than 12 hours later. But this is the way I see it:

It’s not every day that a guy gets to make mutants!

(Muh huh hah ha ha haaa!)

So much science

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.

Off to Maize Genetics!

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.