Innovation in Response to Covid; The New Meat Science & Animal Biologics Building; Harnessing the Power of the Sun on Earth

For December 2, 2020       

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Hi WN@TL Fans,


I remember my astonishment when I read long ago in a Da Vinci biography that his final chapter was as “primier peinctre et ingenieur et architecte du Roy”— the first painter and engineer and architect in service to the king of France in Amboise.


The astonishment wasn’t so much the location in France; rather, it was the word ‘ingenieur’ in French. In English the word ‘engineer’ invokes ‘engine,’ and for me ‘engineer’ in the first 18 years of my life meant someone who drove railroad engines.  Here in the French it jumped out of the Da Vinci biography that engineering is not about engines; rather, it’s about ingenuity.


A second stroke of linguistic lightning hit when I walked into a molecular biology building in France 30 years ago, and chiseled on the lintel were the words “Génie Génétique”.  Genetic Engineering took on a whole ’nuther spin.


The interplays of ingenuity, creativity and fabrication (the good kind) are splendid to watch in ordinary times, especially on a university campus designed so that people from many fields can easily bump into each other. But nine months ago those interplays and synergies took on a literal life-or-death urgency as the UW Hospitals and others in the region faced a shortage of masks, shields and other personal protective gear so vital in keeping the new coronavirus from spreading through the air from patient to caregiver.


Tonight (December 2) we get to hear a new chapter of innovation that encompasses not only designing and prototyping something novel, but also extends to the routes to share the blueprints of a clear shield with people across Wisconsin and around the world.  And not for the last time, ‘engineering’ and ‘innovation’ have taken on a whole ’nuther spin.





Lennon Rodgers of the Grainger Engineering Design Innovation Lab of the College of Engineering will be here to talk to us about “Engineering, Ingenuity & Innovation in Response to Covid.”


Here’s how he describes his presentation:


“In March of this year UW Health urgently reached out to Lennon Rodgers in the College of Engineering to help prepare for a surge in COVID-19 cases. The focus was initially on designing and manufacturing face shields, but soon expanded to other projects to help combat the spread of COVID-19. This “Badger Shield” effort was highlighted in the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine, Nature and others because of their close collaboration with UW Health, focus on mass production and creating what has been called a “pop-up” supply chain. This talk will tell the story of how a group from across Madison came together to create Open Source designs that have been produced in the millions around the world.”


Bio:  Lennon Rodgers is the Director of the Grainger Engineering Design Innovation Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which includes a makerspace, machine shop, and a set of interdisciplinary design programs. He earned his PhD and M.S. from MIT and B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, all in mechanical engineering. Previously he worked at MIT as a Research Scientist and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an engineer.




On December 9 Jeff Sindelar of the Department of Animal & Dairy Sciences and the Division of Extension returns to Wednesday Nite @ The Lab to share the stories & sagas of what it’s taken to imagine, design, contract, build out and open up the new Meat Science & Animal Biologics Discovery Building.

Description:  “The Meat Science & Animal Biologics Discovery (MSABD) building is a testament to designing and constructing a building pinned to the Land Grant missions for teaching, research, and outreach; embracing the ideologies of the Wisconsin Idea; and pursuing a relentless quest to advance the field of animal agriculture for the next 50 years.


“The MSABD building has been a 20 year journey that has finally become a realization.  Learn how one of the most technically complex facilities at UW (and in the State) came about driven by a need (ensuring Wisconsin animal agriculture remains viable) by a countless number of talented and influential people (on and off campus) pursing a singular vision for advancing science and supporting stakeholders .  We will discuss the “journey” — pre-design, design, construction, and start-up — of creating the most state-of-the-art facility of its kind in the world.


“We will place special focus on the start-up of this incredibly technical facility taking a behind-the-scenes look at some of the challenges, learnings, and successes of bringing a facility that conducts cutting research, teaching, and outreach activities; processes and sells meat and poultry products; and houses a biosafety level 2 facility to work with pathogenic bacteria.  Needless to say…this is far from a “normal” facility at UW as we hope you will join to understand why.”


Bio:  Jeff Sindelar is a Professor and Extension Meat Specialist in the department of Animal Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with a meats emphasis from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1999, a Master of Science in Animal Science/Meat Science at Michigan State University in 2002, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Meat Science at Iowa State University in 2006. In 2007 Jeff joined the Department of Animal Sciences and was promoted as Associate Professor with tenure in Fall of 2012. Jeff joined the Food Research Institute in 2009 as an Affiliate Faculty and has served on their Executive committee since 2012.

In his University of Wisconsin faculty capacity, Jeff provides assistance to meat processors in the areas of product development, problem solving and regulatory compliance. He also coordinates Meat Science workshops and training programs, and provides involvement and support to youth Meat Science related activities. Jeff also conducts research on quality and sensory characteristics of processed meats, non-meat ingredient functionality in meat products, and intervention strategies to control pathogenic bacteria in meat products. His research program thrusts have focused on food safety investigations regarding thermal processing, alternative curing, and other relevant processed meat food safety technologies and strategies. He holds 1 patent; has published 7 monographs/book/book chapters, over 35 refereed journal articles, and over 95 abstracts. Jeff has also given over 600 presentations on various Meat Science and Food Safety topics.

Since 2006, Jeff has served as the department representative for the design and construction of the Meat Science & Animal Biologics Discovery building. In this role, he has engaged with hundreds of people including architects, engineers, stakeholders (University and non-University), campus administration and others, government officials, contractors, sub-contractors, construction workers, and construction related vendors to facilitate the design, construction and start-up of the facility.

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On December 16 we put a star atop the tree of year 2020 with a talk by Steffi Diem of Engineering Physics entitled “Fusion Energy:  Harnessing the Power of the Sun on Earth.”


Description:   The potential to use fusion as a carbon-free, fuel-abundant energy source to meet the world’s growing energy demands has motivated significant US and international research. At present, the global fusion community is embarking on a new era to demonstrate net fusion power production with the construction of ITER, a fusion reactor that uses a donut-shaped magnetic field to confine 150 million C plasma (10x hotter than the center of the sun) with the goal of producing 500 MW of fusion power. This talk will illustrate the concept of magnetic fusion energy and highlight Pegasus-III, a new fusion research facility being pursued at UW to address reactor relevant challenges for fusion energy.

Bio:  Prof. Diem’s research interests are in experimental plasma physics for fusion energy development with emphasis on validating numerical models with experimental data. She focuses on utilizing radiofrequency waves to heat and drive current in magnetically confined plasmas. Prof. Diem’s current research is focused on electron Bernstein wave and electron cyclotron heating and current drive experiments on Pegasus-III at UW-Madison as well as collaborations domestically and internationally on RF injection in magnetically confined plasmas. She received her PhD in Plasma Physics from Princeton University and BS in Nuclear Engineering from UW-Madison. Prior to joining the faculty at UW-Madison, Prof. Diem was a Research and Development Staff Scientist in the Fusion Energy Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and was on long-term assignment at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility at General Atomics in San Diego, CA.

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Remember, we now meet by Zoom, since we can’t gather all in one room.


If you have registered for the WN@TL zoom series, you don’t have to register again.


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The recorded presentations and Q&A will be posted on the WN@TL YouTube site.




I hope to see you tonight at 7 by Zoom.


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