Insights into Covid Vaccine Development; A 1616 Map of New England (4 yrs before the Pilgrims…); An Invitation to Mathematical Physics & Its History


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14 April 2021          The Day Not Before Tax Day…


Hi WN@TL Fans,

I wasn’t yet born when the polio vaccine first came out in the mid 1950’s, but I do remember in the mid 1960’s being lined up in the lobby of St Mary’s School in Dixon to get vaccinations.  One time it was a needle, another time it was some sort of a gun, and a third time it was a sugar cube. At St Mary’s not all miracles were manifested by metaphysical means:  some came through the lumen of a cannula.

Yet miracles they were, albeit not instantaneous in their arrival. The killed, injected Salk polio vaccine came into wide use in 1955;  the live, oral Sabin vaccine arrived in Illinois about 8 years later, when I was in first or second grade.  Both had taken years and years to research, develop, test, tweak, mass produce and distribute.  The competing vaccines fueled debates among scientists and controversies among public officials about their relative benefits and risks.  Yet the simple fact is I never knew any sibling, cousin or classmate who suffered an infection by polio, let alone who was crippled or killed by it. Furthermore, my generation is likely the last to bear scars of the smallpox vaccine, and also likely the last to lose a member of our cohort to that scourge which for centuries had carried away kings and commoners.

The last 15 months have been another miracle, or set of miracles, as researchers and health workers have ginned an astonishing array of covid vaccines.  I can think of nothing else like it in my lifetime.  I will also say in deep gratitude that my life is likely to be longer because of these vaccines.

Then today I woke up the to news that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services had suspended the use of the Johnson & Johnson ‘one-and-done’ covid vaccine because of blood clots as reported by the FDA in approximately one of every million people who had received the shot.

It’s a cold reminder of the maze and the gauntlet that vaccines endure, as well as of the calculus the people directing vaccination programs must integrate into their decision-making about the risks to run.   These gauntlets & deliberations will be part of the stories shared at this week’s Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

On April 14 Mary Hayney of the School of Pharmacy will speak on “Insights into the Development of Covid Vaccines.”

Description: The Hayney laboratory conducts research studies of vaccine responses in immunosuppressed patient groups.  In this talk, Professor Hayney will describe and compare the development and review of covid vaccines, including those authorized for the US as well as some of the others from around the world.

Bio:  Mary Hayney joined the University of Wisconsin’s School of Pharmacy in 1997. Her research interests are in host response to vaccination and protective effects, especially as they relate to immunosuppressed individuals. Her clinical practice is with the lung transplant group at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. Her postdoctoral training was at the Mayo Clinic and Foundation in Clinical Pharmacology and Vaccine Research. Her laboratory studies responses to vaccines, particularly in immunosuppressed populations.



On April 21 Matthew Edney of the University of Southern Maine and director of the UW-Madison’s History of Cartography Project returns to Wednesday Nite @ The Lab to share a tale with a twist:  “What’s a Portrait Doing on this Map? Reinterpreting Captain John Smith and His Map of New England.”

Description:  After his exploits in Virginia (think: Pocahontas), Captain John Smith sailed briefly to “northern Virginia” in 1614. His voyage led him to think about a new colonial endeavor to what he now called New England. Few early maps are as burdened with myths and misconceptions as the map he then made of the region. Almost every aspect of the map has been misunderstood. This liberally illustrated lecture blends art history with marine exploration with cartography. It starts with the question of why the map bears a portrait of Smith — when no other maps of the period bear likenesses of their makers — to reveal how the map is less a precise record of Smith’s 1614 voyage and more a complex portrait of a man, a region, and a colonial ideal.

Bio:  Matthew Edney is a geographer, map historian, and UW alum (MS 1985, PhD 1990). Since 2005 he has directed the History of Cartography Project at UW, up in the warrens of Science Hall ( The Project prepares the award-winning series, The History of Cartography, a comprehensive history of the science, technology, and sociocultural ramifications of maps and mapmaking, across human cultures and all times. The series comprises six volumes in twelve books. Volume One appeared in 1987, covering prehistoric, ancient, and medieval mapping; four of the five published volumes are online for free access ( and their chapters have been downloaded more than 3.7 million times. Edney edited Volume Four (Cartography in the European Enlightenment) with Mary Pedley; the volume appeared in print just after the start of the pandemic but is available! Only Volume Five (Cartography in the Nineteenth Century) is left! The series has been a major force in reconceptualizing the nature and history of maps and mapping and in popularizing the study of map history across the humanities and social sciences. Edney is also Osher Professor in the History of Cartography at the University of Southern Maine, Portland. He is broadly interested in the technologies, practices, and institutional contexts of surveying and mapping in Europe after 1600. His latest book is Cartography: The Ideal and Its History (Chicago, 2019). Edney also maintains an academic blog at and tweets @mhedney


On April 28 Jont Allen of the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will speak on “An Invitation to Mathematical Physics and Its History” based on his new book by that title.

Description:  Professor Allen takes an applications-based approach to teaching mathematics to engineering and applied-sciences students. The book lays emphasis on associating mathematical concepts with their physical counterparts, training students of engineering in mathematics to help them learn how things work. He covers the concepts of number systems, algebra equations and calculus through discussions on mathematics and physics, discussing their intertwined history in a chronological order. The book includes examples, homework problems, and exercises. This book can be used to teach a first course in engineering mathematics or as a refresher on basic mathematical physics. Besides serving as core textbook, this book will also appeal to undergraduate students with cross-disciplinary interests as a supplementary text or reader.

Bio:  Jont Allen is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois. After completing his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in 1970, he went to AT&T Bell Labs, where he enjoyed a 32-year career.  At AT&T Allen specialized in nonlinear cochlear modeling, auditory and cochlear speech processing, and speech perception.

Since joining University of Illinois in 2003, he has taught and worked with his students on the theory and practice of human speech recognition, for both normal and hearing impaired hearing as well as reading disabilities in young children.

Professor Allen has more than 20 US patents on hearing aids, signal processing and middle ear measurement diagnostics.



Ah, mid-April already.

Tis high spring, if spring ephemerals are your jam. I hope you get to get out among the bowers of flowers.

See you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!

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