Science, Politics, & Schoolchildren: Reflections on a Special UW-Ukraine Collaboration; Lower Extremity Biomechanics in Collegiate Athletes:The Influence of Injury; Back On Two Feet: Restoring Ambulation with Lower Limb Prosthetics; COVID & The Museum: How Arts Institutions Are Re-Emerging in a Post-Pandemic World

Come Explore the Unknown!


By Zoom:  at  

In Person: Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center, 425 Henry Mall, Madison.

7pm Central. Every Wednesday Night, 50 Times a Year

Interactive map at


For 4 May 2022    


Hi WN@TL Fans,


In 1910 plant pathologist LR Jones left the University of Vermont to come to the University of Wisconsin to start up the new Department of Plant Pathology.  A pioneer of breeding for resistance, he arrived when the yellows disease of cabbage was crippling kraut production in southeastern Wisconsin.  His collaborations with colleagues and growers led to the development of yellows-resistant varieties.


In those same early years, Jones found a protégé in the family of a cabbage grower and seedsman in Racine.  In 1914 JC Walker earned his BS from the UW, winning the Science Medal for his research on onion smut.  He earned his MS here in 1915, his PhD in 1918, and was on the faculty in the Department of Plant Pathology from 1919 to 1964. Walker worked on diseases of many vegetable crops, but his work on cabbage defined the high and long arc of his career.  As Donald Hagedorn wrote, “His pioneering research on genetic resistance to the yellows disease saved the cabbage industry; but more importantly it showed the scientific community that disease control through genetic resistance could be an effective and relatively inexpensive approach to solving plant disease problems.”


In 1959 Paul Williams came to Madison from British Columbia and started on the faculty in Plant Pathology in 1962, taking up the mantle of the cabbage breeding program.  Cabbage is a biennial crop, and to speed up his research Paul developed over the course of 20 years what became “Wisconsin Fast Plants”:  leafy, petite varieties of cabbage and its cousins that could grow indoors, under lights, and complete their life cycle in as little as five weeks.   Paul recognized that Fast Plants could be great tools for teaching & learning as well as for research, and he and his colleagues developed Fast Plants into an international program that provided educators and students with a plant version of what fruit flies had long served for animal biology:  a genetic model system that was small, fast, simple and cheap.


This week we get to hear how these traits, whose raison d’etre traces back to disease-ravaged cabbage fields in Franksville in Wisconsin, also made Fast Plants pioneers in 1997 in research on growing plants in space, first on the Russian space station Mir and then on the US space shuttle.   And equally remarkably, back home on Earth, the experiments were mirrored by school students in both the US and in Ukraine growing plants at the same time as those in space.

The tradition of innovation & excellence in plant science & public service at UW-Madison continues this weekend with UW Family Gardening Day on Saturday May 7 from 10 am to 1pm at DC Smith Greenhouse, Allen Centennial Garden, Steenbock Library, and the Wisconsin Energy Institute.  Come explore more about plants grow, and about how humans grow plants.  And take home some tomato, pepper and oregano seedlings of your own.

On May 4 Dan Lauffer of Wisconsin Fast Plants will speak on “Science, Politics, & Schoolchildren:  Reflections on a Special UW-Ukraine Collaboration.”


Description:  As Ukraine faces Russian invasion and the US grapples with supporting Ukrainian defenses, we bring to Wednesday Night at the Lab insights and memories about a close working relationship among UW-Madison and Ukrainian scientists and educators from a 1997 NASA-funded collaborative project. Both global and local in scope, this talk recalls the serendipitous events leading up to a Ukrainian and US collaboration in space research and education. Dan Lauffer recalls and presents the story of roles played by UW-Madison, NASA, and Ukrainian scientists in a shared, large-scale project, involving Wisconsin Fast Plants and experiments in space. Situated during the end of the Cold War, this collaboration entwined facets of politics, plant sciences, and high school science learning across Ukraine and the United States.


Bio:  Dan Lauffer is the director of the research arm of the Wisconsin Fast Plants Program, the Rapid-cycling Brassica Research Collection. Over the last 30 years, he has worked to strengthen science education with school districts across the country and around the world through the Fast Plants Program. Lauffer’s primary interest and expertise is in developing and refining seed stocks, growing protocols, tools and investigative strategies for using Fast Plants as a model organism in research and education.


During his tenure with the Fast Plants Program, Lauffer has facilitated large collaborations among researchers and educators from all levels to design and implement innovative student-centered inquiries. This work included a global NASA-funded project in which Fast Plants were grown in space, while classrooms throughout the US and Ukraine conducted simultaneous experiments and communicated regularly with the astronauts. Lauffer earned his BS and MBA degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to his work with the Wisconsin Fast Plants Program at UW-Madison, Lauffer was the Chief Operations Officer for the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center from 2008 to 2014 and is the President and CEO of the 35 year old seed production company, Tetrad Inc.


Explore More:

On May 11 Dan Cobian of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation speaks on “Lower Extremity Biomechanics in Collegiate Athletes: The Influence of Injury.”


Description: Badger Athletic Performance (BAP) is a collaborative partnership between the Department of Orthopedics & Rehabilitation and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Wisconsin. BAP is dedicated to the mission of maximizing each student-athlete’s on-field performance through the integration of science, training, and injury management. The study of human biomechanics is the foundation for athletic performance. This session will illustrate the effects of injury on athletic movement and how this information is used to maintain student-athlete health and wellness through individualized care.


Bio: Dan Cobian, DPT, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopedics & Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a faculty member in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program and a research scientist with the Badger Athletic Performance Lab. Prior to joining the faculty at UW-Madison, he received a PhD in Rehabilitation Science from The University of Iowa (2015), and completed a postdoc position in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at UW-Madison (2016). The focus of Dr. Cobian’s thesis work was lower extremity power and rapid force development after knee injury, surgery, and rehabilitation.


The objectives of his current research are to better understand the neuromuscular implications of musculoskeletal trauma, characterize the effects of injury on movement biomechanics, sports performance and function, and determine how to best prescribe and dose rehabilitation interventions to facilitate improved outcomes and long term quality of life. He has authored peer-reviewed articles published in numerous sports medicine journals and has presented research and delivered educational content at a variety of state and national meetings.


Dr. Cobian maintains a clinical practice in Sports Rehabilitation for UW Health at The American Center, and specializes in treating patients with lower extremity musculoskeletal trauma, with an emphasis on knee joint injury and surgery. He also provides consultation services to the University of Wisconsin Athletics Department. Dr. Cobian is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (Sports, Orthopaedic, and Research sections), the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American College of Sports Medicine. He currently serves on the Research Committee of the AASPT and as the Research Coordinator for the Annual Meeting & Scientific Conference.


Explore More: 

Badger Athletic Performance website:

Badger Athletic Performance twitter account: @UWBadgerAP

Dan Cobian DPT Faculty page:

On May 18 Amy Paulios of UW Health Orthotics & Prosthetics will speak on “Back On Two Feet: Restoring Ambulation with Lower Limb Prosthetics.”

On May 25 Amy Gilman, director of the Chazen Museum of Art, will speak on “COVID & The Museum:  How Arts Institutions Are Re-Emerging in a Post-Pandemic World.”


Description: Dr. Amy Gilman, director of the Chazen Museum of Art, will share insights about the museum’s progress over the last 5 years, and how the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in priorities for the institution. Prior to the pandemic, the Chazen was deeply embedded in a period of growth. After focusing on staff restructuring and financial sustainability for the first two years of her directorship, Gilman had begun to pivot the museum towards being a radically inclusive and accessible space.


Like many arts institutions, however, the Chazen suffered set-backs as a result of the pandemic and was forced to reassess its priorities going forward. Dr. Gilman will share how the museum pivoted during this difficult time, and found new and meaningful ways to support its partners on campus. Additionally, Dr. Gilman will discuss current events in the field, especially the call for art museums to address social justice issues in their communities and how the Chazen is taking part in the movement. Dr. Gilman will share information on upcoming exhibitions and programs, and their connection to the Chazen’s broader strategic goals going forward.


Bio: Dr. Amy Gilman joined the Chazen Museum of Art in September 2017. As director of the Chazen, she oversees all administrative, financial, and curatorial duties for the museum. Since her arrival, Gilman has stewarded a new museum website, replaced unpaid internships with paid ones, and re-imagined the museum’s lobby and store as a coffee shop and gathering place for both museum visitors and whole community.


During COVID and an unusual academic year, Gilman initiated the development of flexible, adaptable, virtual curricula for use by faculty, connecting the museum’s permanent collection with course themes of resilience and surviving trauma, and art and activism. Gilman is a progressive leader in the field, and an advocate for the role of the university art museum on campus and in the community.


Prior to the Chazen, Gilman spent 12 years at the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio where she served as deputy director, assistant director for collections and exhibitions, and curator of modern and contemporary art. Gilman is an alumna of the Getty Leadership Institute. She earned her doctorate in art history at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, a Master of Fine Arts in photography from Columbia College in Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree in performance studies from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.


Explore More:

Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.


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


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WN@TL begins at 7:00pm Central

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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.


Here are the components of the WN@TL User’s Guide:

  1. The live WN@TL seminar, every Wednesday night, 50 times a year, at 7pm CT in Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center and on Zoom at
  2. The WN@TL YouTubechannel
  3. WN@TL on the University Placebroadcast channel of PBS Wisconsin
  4. WN@TL on the University Place website

Park for a small fee in Lot 20, 1390 University Avenue, Madison, WI


Archive of Past Talks Upcoming Talks


In partnership with

Wisconsin Alumni Association | UW-Madison Biotechnology Center

Division of Extension | PBS Wisconsin | UW Science Alliance