This week, some Technical Adaptations for best viewing;Viruses as Unique & Long-lived as Their Human Hosts

For February 10, 2021       
Please share this missive with your friends & neighbors. 
By Zoom or YouTube, beginning at 7:00pm Central.  
*See below for special links for our Darwin Days events.
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Hi WN@TL Fans,
I am delighted that over the coming 8 days we’ll have a series of 3 events in partnership with UW Darwin Days to mark the birthday of Charles Darwin on February 12, 1809.
A key concept of Darwin was natural selection.
A pivotal part of natural selection is adaptation.
This week I have the happy occasion to ask you to adapt to some new Zoom registrations or YouTube links (no registration required).
1.  For Moriah Szpara’s talk February 10 on “Viruses as Unique & Long-lived as Their Human Hosts,” would you please use one of these links?
Zoom registration –
2.  For Monday February 15, we invite you to watch online The Serengeti Rules at 7:00 pm & then join us for Sean Carroll’s Q&A at 8:00 pm.
Zoom registration:

*Please note:  The Zoom will open at 7PM for a short introduction, and then we invite audience members to watch The Serengeti Rules directly at  rather than through zoom screen share.
The Serengeti Rules is free and no registration required at the site.  Then return to the WN@TL/Darwin Days Zoom chat. Dr. Carroll will join the Zoom at 8:00 PM for a Q&A until 8:30PM Central. 

Alternatively, participants are also welcome to watch The Serengeti Rules anytime and then join the Q&A at 8PM February 15.

3.  For next Wednesday February 17 & the panel on “The Co-evolution of Mammals and Microbes” would you please use one of these links?
Zoom registration:
On February 10 our guest speaker for UW Darwin Days is Prof Moriah Szpara from Penn State who will speak on “Viruses As Unique & Long-lived as Their Human Hosts.”
Zoom registration –
Description:  Much of the “Invisible Biology” of the world around us consists of viruses, which are as diverse and varied in their lifestyles as the other organisms we see around us. Herpesviruses are a particularly widespread family of viruses. Unlike acute infections that we clear in days or weeks, these viruses are resident within us for an entire lifetime — always capable of re-emerging and spreading to new hosts. This talk will highlight the unique biology of herpes simplex viruses, which infect humans and set up a lifelong infection in our nervous system. I’ll explain how the revolution of next-generation or “deep” sequencing has revealed far more diversity and flexibility in these viruses than we thought possible. We’ll also explore how changes in human behavior are in turn re-shaping these viruses.

Bio:  Moriah Szpara is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Biology, and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, at the Pennsylvania State University. Her group is part of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD) at Penn State, within the Huck Institutes for the Life Sciences. Szpara received her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California Berkeley, in neurobiology. As a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University with Dr. Lynn Enquist, Dr. Szpara focused on the neurotropic herpesviruses. The Szpara lab now explores the impacts of viral genetic diversity on virulence and disease severity, with a focus on viruses that infect the nervous system. Our research spans the range from genomic and bioinformatic comparisons of viral genomes, to dissecting viral interactions with human neurons, to examining viral diversity in real-world human infections. We also build open-source tools for working with viral genomes, like VirAmp ( and VirGA (http:// You can keep up with the lab’s research at:, or on Science Twitter @SzparaLab. 

Websites:  Here is the Szpara Lab’s website, to see our past papers & related resources:
ViralZone is a wonderful resource to look up details of any virus:
This Week in Virology (TWiV) is a fabulous podcast & blog by a group of fellow virologists:
More to Explore for UW Darwin Days
On February 15 we’ll have a special Monday edition of Wednesday Nite @ The Lab as Sean B. Carroll of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute returns for a screening of his documentary The Serengeti Rules as part of UW-Madison’s Darwin Day celebrations.
Zoom registration:
Watch the documentary here:  The Serengeti Rules
On February 17 we will welcome a panel of researchers who will be discussing “The Co-evolution of Mammals and Microbes”:
Jemma Geoghegan, Univeristy of Otago
Aspen Reese, University of California, San Diego
Paul Turner, Yale University

Caitlin Pepperell, UW-Madison
Tony Goldberg, UW-Madison
Zoom registration:
Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!
Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H