Wednesday Nite @ the Lab

Sustainability Via Synthetic Biology

Brain Pfleger, UW-Madison Associate Professor of Biological and Chemical Engineering investigates sustainable synthetic alternatives for petrochemicals. He touches on identifying, understanding and engineering chemical building blocks to convert organic compounds into a sustainable energy source.

Microbes and Diet, Digestion, and Disease

Greg Richards, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, UW-Parkside, discusses the countless ways microbes help us thrive and survive. Beneficial microorganisms ferment foods such as cheese and yogurt, help with the digestive system by synthesizing vitamins and helping with the absorption of nutrients, and aid our immune systems to fight off diseases.

The Scientist and the Lindbergh Kidnapping

Adam Schrager, author of " The Sixteenth Rail: The Evidence, The Scientist, and the Lindbergh Kidnapping," tells the story of Arthur Koehler, a forensic scientist with the Wisconsin Forest Product’s Lab. Koehler helped to solve the mystery of the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s son by examining the ladder used to enter the home.

Carrots and Vitamin A

Philipp Simon, Professor, Department of Horticulture, UW-Madison, explores the genetics and biochemistry that drive the culinary and nutritive factors in carrots and garlic. Simon discusses ways that terpenoids and sugars flavor and protect these two leading root crops.

Self-Organization: Nature's Intelligent Design

Clint Sprott, Professor Emeritus, Department of Physics, UW-Madison, explains that although we believe that complex patterns must have a complex cause, patterns may spontaneously arise. This self-organization which occurs in nature can be described with simple computer models that replicate the features of the patterns.

Arguing America on 'Meet the Press'

Solon Simmons, Interim Dean, The School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution, George Mason University, analyzes the twists and turns of American politics based on the weekly television program ‘Meet the Press.’ On the air since 1945, ‘Meet the Press’ provides an unparalleled record of the people who directly influence policy and hold the reins of power in Washington.

The Evolution of the Western Plains

Deborah Rook of the UW-Madison Geosciences Department shares her work on prehistoric grasslands and grazers in North America using fossilized teeth, as well as rocks and soil. Evolution of grasslands and grazers are in a feedback loop. Which came first is an on-going question.

Anticipation, Uncertainty, and Anxiety

Jack Nitschke, Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Psychology, UW-Madison, explores using brain imaging to better understand anxiety and how to treat it. Nitschke introduces the Uncertainty and Anticipation Model of Anxiety (UAMA), and presents data for a range of anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

How Vitamin Research Uncovered Essential Minerals

Roger A. Sunde, Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, UW-Madison, explains that copper and zinc, essential elements, were discovered in food while using the bioassay approach (feeding studies with rats) while searching for vitamins. Both vitamins and trace essential minerals were present in levels so low as to evade detection by analytical means, and had to be teased out using bioassay.

Orange Maize Provides Vitamin A

Sherry Tanumihardjo, Associate Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, UW-Madison, discusses the advantages to eating Orange Maize. This variety of corn provides a significant amount of Vitamin A which, if it became a staple of their diet, could help to decrease the occurrence of blindness in the world’s poorest children.

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