An Infrastructure of Entrepreneurship; The UW Now; Badger Talks Live

April 6, 2020

Please share this update with your friends & neighbors.

Hi WN@TL Fans,

When it comes to infrastructure, I’m a fan.

I grew up in town, but for three years in my 30s I lived in an old farmhouse on McGirr Road in DeKalb County, Illinois.  In 1990, when the thunderstorms rolled in from the west, or the snow storms blew in from the south (the really snowy ones tend to), I often shuddered in the dark about how the previous owners of my house had endured life on the prairie in 1910, or even 1920 or 1930.

Those folks had but candles & kerosene to light the night, muscle to run the water pump at the kitchen sink, wood or coal for stoves for cooking and heating, an outhouse for relieving, a gravel road—or perhaps still just dirt—for driving their wagon to get to town.  No phone, no radio, no electricity, no septic.

So, I’m a fan of the electric grid, of water lines and sewage plants, of cell towers and satellite systems, of paved roads and sturdy bridges.

I’m sure:  Ain’t no structure like infrastructure.

There’s also a kind of infrastructure that’s harder to see.  Take, for example, those in education, public health, governance.

Ain’t no infrastructure like social infrastructure.

Among the social infrastructure is our research enterprise.  How does one plant and cultivate and sustain a culture of curiosity, of inquiry, of invention, of innovation, and of bringing to market some of the practical fruits of research?

Since we’re in a moment of urgency to discover, test, ramp-up, finance, and distribute pressing needs ranging from toilet paper to PPE, from viral assays to vaccines, I’m pleased this week to feature Rock Mackie’s talk on “Fueling Academic Entrepreneurship.


Rock Mackie’s talk will pair well with the upcoming presentation by Phill Gross as part of the next “The UW Now” online on Tuesday April 7 at 7pm CDT.

For information on how to watch the live stream, please see

You can also watch the recording of The UW Now of Dr. Nasia Safdar’s March 31 presentation on the coronavirus pandemic in Wisconsin and her responses to questions at


The folks at “Badger Talks,” UW-Madison’s speakers bureau, are also launching online presentations, starting on April 9 at noon CDT.  I’ve copied the “Badger Talks Live” lineup below. Here’s the link:

I’m giving the presentation on Thursday April 21.  I’ll be channeling Graham Kerr, circa 1970,  whom I used to watch at noon on the color TV at my Grandpa Deutsch’s house, back when it was OK to leave grade school to go home for the lunch hour.

Hope to see you sometime soon once we can resume Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H



UW-Madison:  5.8 million owners, one pretty good public land-grant teaching, research and extension university.

Visit UW-Madison’s science outreach portal at for information on the people, places & programs on campus that welcome you to come experience science as exploring the unknown, all year round.

Here are the components of the WN@TL User’s Guide:

  1. The live WN@TL seminar, every Wednesday night, 50 times a year, at 7pm CT (on hiatus as of March 11, 2020)
  2. The live web stream at on hiatus)
  3. The WN@TL YouTubechannel
  4. WN@TL on the University Placebroadcast channel of PBS Wisconsin
  5. WN@TL on the University Place website

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