On The Co-Evolution of Mammals and Microbes

For February 17, 2021       
Please share this missive with your friends & neighbors. 
For the special February 17 joint presentation with Darwin Days, would you please use one of these direct links:
Zoom registration: https://go.wisc.edu/77qbzd
For following dates:  if you’ve already registered for a previous WN@TL this fall, you’re good—you don’t have to register again.
If you’ll be watching for the first time next week, please register for the WN@TL Zoom at go.wisc.edu/240r59 
Beginning at 7:00pm Central.
If you would like to join the weekly email missives, please send an email to wednesday-nite-at-the-lab+subscribe@g-groups.wisc.edu
Hi WN@TL Fans,
One hundred sixteen years ago yesterday, on February 16, 1905, if you’d been a subscriber to the Wisconsin State Journal you’d have seen an article entitled “Madison Host To Its Visitors.”  It recapped the “Citizens Dinner” hosted by the University and held in the UW Red Gym the night before.  The 675 guests included the Legislature and the Wisconsin Press Association.  Among the speakers were people with names that still resound:  Vilas, La Follette, Hoard, Spooner.
That winter evening, a mile up State Street from the Red Gym stood in ruins the Wisconsin State Capitol, all but its North Wing destroyed by fire nearly a year before, on February 27, 1904.  The burning down of the capitol building had raised up the possibility of moving the seat of government to another capital city.
Such a move would have made another Iowa out of Wisconsin. It would have put many miles between the two domed institutions that had stood for decades at either end of State Street:  the state government and the state university.   I gather the dinner at the Red Gym was a soiree to induce, perhaps to seduce, the Legislature to rebuild in Madison.  One of the leading reasons to remain and rebuild that resonated in the remarks of at least two speakers was the fact that that the university was a state institution, not merely a Madison institution.  One of those two speakers was Prof JC Freeman, a name new to me.
The other speaker was Charles Van Hise.
It was on that night that he gave the speech on the nature of universities, and on the essence of this university, that ended with this affirmation:
At that time, the phrase “The Wisconsin Idea” referred to Hoard’s 1898 dictum that dairy farmers should pay attention solely to the dairy qualities and not to the beef qualities of dairy cattle.  In 1912 Charles McCarthy published his book, “The Wisconsin Idea” on the roles of Wisconsin government in securing “the social and political betterment of the people as a whole.”
Hoard’s original meaning of “The Wisconsin Idea” has faded away, while McCarthy’s broad vision still inspires as underscored by author Gwen Drury.   As for me, the aspirational words of Van Hise remain the finest exposition of the Wisconsin Idea at the University of Wisconsin.
In pandemic times, when viruses arise and mutate and evolve and spread disease and death across the land, we certainly have a heavy duty to ensure the beneficent influence of the university reaches every family in Wisconsin.  We extend that beneficence in old and new ways, including by zoom in these days.  During Darwin Days we share the insights and experience of researchers here in Madison as well as of those in places far from home—from State College and College Park, from New Haven and San Diego, even from Dunedin (the one in New Zealand).  We delve into the 162-year-old idea of evolution that today still bears on how we look at life and how we lead our lives, especially when stalked by a virus that has killed more than 480,000 of our fellow countrymen in less than a year.
I’m grateful to Jaime Cordova and Tabitha Faber and the other co-organizers of the Darwin Days commemoration sponsored by the UW’s JF Crow Institute for the Study of Evolution.   I am especially grateful to the speakers—Moriah Szpara, Sean Carroll, Jemma Geoghegan, Aspen Reese, Paul Turner, Tony Goldberg, and Caitlin Pepperell—for sharing the sagas of their science.
I hope their stories will help speed our science savvy so that we’re better able to use science in making personal choices, in forming public policies, and in making decisions in the face of uncertainty.
Tonight the Darwin Day organizers welcome a panel of three researchers from across the nation and reaching to New Zealand to speak on The Co-Evolution of Mammals and Microbes.

Would you please use these special direct links to the presentation?

Zoom direct link: https://go.wisc.edu/77qbzd

YouTube direct link: https://youtu.be/X2T3BqN4HSw
Next week on February 24 Rebecca Hutcheson from the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research will present her insights into “Making the Virus Causing COVID-19 Safe for Research.”
Description: The virus that causes COVID-19 must be studied by scientists in high biosafety containment facilities, slowing the progress of research. The Sugden lab is tackling this issue by engineering a safer version of the original virus that will used at a lower biosafety level. This new system will improve the safety for scientists studying the virus, make research easier, and will serve to accelerate research that will help to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bio: Rebecca Hutcheson is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is from Georgia, where she earned her BS in biochemistry and molecular biology from Mercer University in 2015. Following her undergraduate work, she spent a year teaching in Thailand then returned to science and entered the Cellular and Molecular Pathology PhD program at UW with a focus on virology and cancer biology. Rebecca is a member of Bill Sugden’s group, where the lab is currently working to develop a safer derivative of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that has caused the recent COVID-19 public health crisis.

Then, we’re in to March, with Adrian Treves of the Nelson Institute speaking March 3 on “Wolf Policy and Its Effects on Illegal Killing, Human Tolerance, and Recovery.”
Description: Reporting new evidence from Wisconsin’s wolves, red wolves and Mexican gray wolves, Dr. Treves presents the state of the science on endangered wolf policy. Four lines of evidence show that ‘blood does not buy goodwill’. Legalizing wolf-killing does not raise tolerance for wolves, does not reduce poaching, and slows population growth more than expected from legal mortality. The best available science shows that cryptic poaching and concealment of evidence increases instead. Therefore, lethal management of predators should be reformed.

Bio: Adrian Treves focuses on ecology, scientific integrity, public trust principles, and agro-ecosystems where crops and domestic animals overlap carnivore habitat. Founder and Director of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab, and Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he earned his PhD at Harvard University in 1997. He and his lab have authored >134 scientific papers, best known for our gold-standard experiments on non-lethal prevention of predation on domestic animals, estimates of illegal wolf-killing and cryptic poaching, and our work on risk maps to predict human-carnivore conflict sites.

Explore More: http://faculty.nelson.wisc.edu/treves/
By the way, the soiree might have helped in the swaying of the weighing of the decision regarding the seat of government.  In 1906, work began on the new state capitol, the one that is the envy of the other 49.  It’s right up there at the east end of State Street.
Now that we’re all inured to single-digit-below-zero weather, I hope we can enjoy the heat wave coming at the end of the week.  I will miss my merino long-underwear, but not for long.
Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!
Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H