Tracking Insects Across Wisconsin in the Pandemic Year; Barriers to Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Among Latinx Individuals; Forgetting, and Why It Helps Us Remember

Explore the Unknown!   
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For August 11, 2021            
Hi WN@TL Fans,
There are three types of people:  those who loathe insects, those who love insects, and lepidopterists.
As a plant pathologist trained in a building that also housed entomologists, I learned by osmosis that the latter often refer to their subjects as ‘critters’—an all-encompassing term for insects, ticks & other mites, spiders, daddy longlegs & harvestmen, roly polies, centipedes and millipedes (hundred-footers and thousand-footers in the English system), on occasion nematodes, and sometimes even scorpions. All of these are invertebrates—animals without backbones, akin to some humans, as my Ag teacher would say on a bad day.
A plant pathologist, at least those who work in the fields and forests, soon gains an admiration for the entomologist and an appreciation for the interplay between critters and pathogens.  Both can discolor leaves or leave them shot-holed.  Both can cause galls and tumors on leaves and stems.  Root disorders are particularly perplexing to parse whether the culprit is a microbe or a critter; sometimes it’s a synergy.
Plant pathologists and entomologists note that their respective subjects have bent the arc of human history, or have twisted it.  Even now mosquitoes kill more humans every year than any other animal. Plant diseases work more discretely, through famine, malnutrition and migration.
In this historic pandemic, I’m guessing that more humans have spent more time at home than in any other stretch of my lifetime.  Gardening has boomed, outdoors and in.  Nearly 1 in 5 US families adopted a dog or cat between March 2020 and May 2021. These are just a few reasons to wonder if our current seasons of bug-watching might be different than recent years.  As always, we have waves of new-on-the-scene insects, but in 2020-21 we also have lots of fresh eyes on the prize.  The pandemic has changed human behavior—especially when and where we spend time outdoors and indoors—and I’m looking forward to learning tonight how that angle may be changing the range of critters PJ Liesch is seeing in the Insect Diagnostic Lab.  
Tonight August 11 PJ Liesch, Extension Entomologist and director of the Insect Diagnostic Lab of the Department of Entomology & the Division of Extension, will update us on the state of insects in Wisconsin.  
Description: There’s never a dull moment at the University of Wisconsin Insect Diagnostic Lab with thousands of arthropod identification requests coming into the lab each year from Wisconsin and beyond. The COVID-19 pandemic did impact the day-to-day efforts of the diagnostic lab, but services were maintained throughout the pandemic. In this talk, we’ll take a look at some of the main insect and arthropod trends observed at the lab over the course of the pandemic as well as some of the impacts of COVID on the lab and insect cases.

Bio: Patrick (PJ) Liesch is a statewide entomology specialist and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab (IDL).  Each year, the IDL handles over 2,400 insect identification requests from Wisconsin’s farmers, private industry, university and government agencies, the general public, and other groups.  PJ is an instructor for the Wisconsin Master Gardener program also provides entomology-related outreach throughout the state, including regular appearances on Wisconsin Public Radio.  He is also involved with the Wisconsin Master Gardener Program and the First Detector Network. PJ holds degrees in biological sciences (B.S., UW-Parkside) and entomology (M.S., UW-Madison). PJ regularly speaks at a number of workshops, field days, expos and other events.  To inquire about PJ’s availability for a given event, contact him via email.

On August 18 Maria Mora Pinzon of Family Medicine and Community Health will share her research & insights on “Barriers to Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease Among Latinx Individuals:  More than a Language Issue.”
Description: Hispanic/Latino adults are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. However, they have higher rates of under-diagnosis (and hence under-treatment), and experience unique barriers to access diagnosis and treatment. In this presentation we will start by discussing who is considered Hispanic or Latino, the factors that are associated with increased risk, and the barriers that affect access to healthcare services (e.g. insurance, language). Even more, we will explore some examples of culturally relevant information and the use of social media to bridge gaps in Latinx communities.

Bio: Dr. Mora Pinzon received her medical degree from the Universidad Central de Venezuela – Escuela Jose Maria Vargas, a master’s degree in Clinical Research from Rush University (Chicago, IL), and completed Preventive Medicine Residency at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW-Madison) in 2017. She is Board Certified in Preventive Medicine and Public Health and is currently a primary care research fellow at the UW-Madison Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and a scientist with the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute.

Dr. Mora Pinzon has leadership positions in the American College of Preventive Medicine and is a member of Health Policy Professional Interest Areas of The Alzheimer’s Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment (ISTAART). She is working in health equity and its intersection with dissemination and implementation science in Latinx and African American communities, particularly in topics affecting older adults: falls, management of chronic diseases, and healthcare access for patients living with dementias and their caregivers.

Among her awards, she was selected as 2018 Young Physician of the year by the National Hispanic Medical Association, 2020 William Kane Rising Start Award from the American College of Preventive Medicine, and more recently named by Medscape as one of the 25 Rising Stars in Medicine. She is one of the co-founders of the Twitter community #LatinasInMedicine which amplifies the voices of Latinas in healthcare professions, and shares opportunities for networking, mentoring and professional development.

Explore More:
On August 25 Haley Vlach of Educational Psychology will speak on “Forgetting:  What It Is and Why It Helps Us Remember.”
Description: This talk will provide an overview of a critical process of human memory: forgetting. I will explain what forgetting is, why we study forgetting, and what scientists have discovered from the science of forgetting. While most of us see forgetting as a process that impairs our ability to remember, research has revealed that forgetting is one of our most powerful learning mechanisms. That is, forgetting is a good thing!
Bio: Dr. Haley Vlach is a faculty member in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Director of the Learning, Cognition, & Development Lab. Her research examines the mechanisms underlying children’s learning to (a) understand cognition and how cognition develops, and (b) build an empirical base for the design of successful learning interventions and educational curricula.  Her research has been funded by NIH, NSF, WARF, WCER, and the Australian Research Council. Dr. Vlach has received several awards for her work, recognizing her as an early pioneer in the fields of cognitive science and developmental psychology. For instance, she has received the SRCD Early Career Contribution Award, APA Boyd McCandless Award, William Chase Award, and James S. McDonnell Foundation Human Cognition Scholar Award. She holds doctorate and master’s degrees in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University.

Explore More:
Remember, we continue to meet by Zoom, since we can’t gather all in one room.  
Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!
Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H

UW-Madison:  5.9 million owners, one pretty good public land-grant teaching, research and extension university. 

Visit UW-Madison’s science outreach portal at for information on the people, places & programs on campus that welcome you to come experience science as exploring the unknown, all year round. 
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