The New Meat Science & Animal Biologics Discovery Building

For December 9, 2020       
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Hi WN@TL Fans,
In his early 60’s my Dad developed Type II diabetes and soon thereafter started giving himself daily shots of insulin.  At first the label read “porcine” because of William the Conqueror and 1066 and all that:  we use fancy French words in medicine and science, instead of saying “from pig” or even better, “from swine”.  It was amazing to think that pancreases collected from hog slaughterhouses were vital to keeping my Dad healthy and alive.  Also, this was the height of the Just Say No to Drugs campaign, and it did my twenty-something heart good to watch my Republican-precinct-chairman father shoot up twice a day.  When you’re diabetic, you just say yes. 
After a few years Dad was able to switch to Humulin, the brand name for human insulin made not by collecting human pancreases but rather by moving a copy of the human gene for the insulin protein into a microbe, and then growing a population of that transgenic microbe in a fermentation vat, and letting the microbe make the hormone.  Users of Humulin had the advantage of not having to worry about gradually developing an immunological intolerance to the pig version.  
One of my Dad’s Humulin vials
My Dad’s experience was a useful introduction to the yin and yang of livestock as a resource for advancing human health.  I’d heard of transplanting pig heart valves into humans, and the alluring possibility of using pigskin not just for footballs but also as skin grafts for human burn victims, albeit such xenografts would be temporary.  However, there were always immunological glitches and histocompatibility hitches. 
Viewed from today, it’s astonishing what three decades of advances in animal science, immunology, genetic engineering and gene editing can do.  Now it’s possible to look to livestock, especially pigs, as genetic avatars for human diseases, as well as sources of tissues and organs for transplants into humans provided appropriate tweaks are made to the histocompatibility profile so a human recipient is less likely to reject an organ from a pig. 
It’s from this point of view that I took notice of the full name of the new Meat Science building on campus.  It is the “Meat Science & Animal Biologics Discovery Building.” Now, I’m a fan of meat in the pan; I thrill to brats on the grill; thinly-sliced charcuterie is a delight to me; and I am always achin’ for some bacon. Moreover, here in America’s Dairyland, I’ve long been a fan of the reminder:  “Every dairy operation is also a beef operation.”   But it’s the idea of the “Animal Biologics” that is especially appealing to me. 
So I’m looking forward to learning how such an extraordinary animal science building—one intended to both nourish and heal humans—is envisioned, planned, funded, built, test-driven, staffed and opened up for research, education and extension.
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’s gone into building 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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On January 6 we will have an epiphany about microbiology & mosquitoes.  Kerri Coon of Bacteriology will be here to talk about “Why Mosquitoes Love YOU (and Other Things You Never Knew about Skeeters & Their Microbiome).”
Description:  Microbes are everywhere…and so are mosquitoes. Our lab has found interesting links between the communities of microbes present in the guts of mosquitoes and the environments in which they live (i.e. the ‘mosquito microbiome’) and the ability of mosquitoes to grow, reproduce, and blood feed. These findings not only have important implications for the development of novel strategies to control mosquitoes and the pathogens they transmit, but also for our understanding of how microbes have shaped the evolution of other, closely related insects of ecological, medical, and agricultural concern. Join us to find out more about the biology of these notorious pests, and to learn about a friendly mosquito native to Wisconsin!

Bio:  Kerri Coon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bacteriology. Kerri received her doctoral degree from the lab of Dr. Michael Strand at the University of Georgia, where she studied the microbial regulation of molting in mosquitoes. She subsequently worked on insect microbiome-immune system interactions in Dr. Nancy Moran’s lab at the University of Texas at Austin before starting her position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019. Research in Kerri’s lab focuses on understanding the diversity and function of gut microbes in mosquitoes and other insect disease vectors.
Remember, we now meet by Zoom, since we can’t gather all in one room.
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The recorded presentations and Q&A will be posted on the WN@TL YouTube site.
I hope to see you this Wednesday at 7 by Zoom.
Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H