UW MIA Project’s 2022 Mission in Belgium; Climate Change & the Consequences of Suboptimal Temperatures on Reproduction; At the Intersection of Wildlife & Aviation

“Wednesday Nite @ The Lab” Public Science Talks

Wednesdays at 7pm CT

Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center, 425 Henry Mall, Madison WI, 


Stream at go.wisc.edu/240r59


For 7 September 2022    

Hi WN@TL Fans,

My Dad was born in Milwaukee in October 1925 and graduated from Washington Park High School in Racine in the spring of 1942.  He was 16.  I’m guessing many of his older classmates were soon off to the war if they had not already dropped out soon after Pearl Harbor to enlist.

On the first day of June of 1942, for the nation–and for the Class of ’42–the recent US feats in the war had included the fall of Corregidor (May 8), the Battle of Coral Sea (May 4-8), the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo (April 18), the fall of Bataan (April 9), and MacArthur’s flight from the Philippines (March 11-20, 1942).  These were not auspicious times. The more favorable Battles of Midway, Milne Bay, and Guadalcanal were yet beyond the veil.

Sixteen-year-olds grow to be 17 and then 18 if all goes well.  Drafted into the Army in 1944, Dad’s unit shipped out from San Francisco in March 1945 and landed in Manila in April, nearly three years after he walked across the graduation stage at Park.  It was in Manila on August 15 that he heard the news that the Japanese had announced their surrender.  Dad remembered that night as among his scarier experiences of the war:  it seems that every US or Filipino soldier with a weapon was firing celebratory shots skyward.  Dad was not too keen on the idea that one of the postbellum rounds would hit his cerebellum on the bullet’s way back to the ground.

Some 60 years later, when his grandson Luke interviewed Dad about his experiences in the war, Dad noted that with the surrender announcement came a great wave of personal relief:  originally slated to be part of the invasion force to attack the home islands of Japan, now he would live through the war, unlike so many of the boys of his class and of his generation.  In April 1946 Dad would step off the military train at Fort McCoy, back home again in Wisconsin.

Estimates of the total death toll, military, and civilian, for World War 2 run to 70 million and beyond.  That includes 405,000 US military deaths.  Moreover, 72,000 MIAs remain,  including 26,000 that are assessed as possibly-recoverable.  The UW MIA Recovery and Identification Program has helped identify three of those missing. All of them had once been 16, 17, 18, but unlike my Dad, none had lived to see 28.

This summer the UW MIA team went back to Belgium, searching for a fourth.


On September 7 I’ll be giving the talk entitled “The Stories Behind the MIA Project’s 2022 Recovery Mission in Belgium” based on the team’s work from June 26 to July 19 searching for the remains of a missing-in-action airman at the crash site of a US Army Air Force bomber shot down in Belgium in 1944.

Description:  Launched in 2014, the Missing in Action Recovery and Identification Project of the Biotechnology Center works to recover, identify, and repatriate MIA U.S. service members by conducting annual field excavations and year-round research assistance to families of missing service members. The project consists of an interdisciplinary team of academic experts and student volunteers in the fields of history, archaeology, forensic anthropology, and biology, collaborating to make these missions possible.  The project has identified the remains of three servicemembers:  PFC Lawrence Gordon in 2014, Lt Frank Fazekas in 2017, and 2nd Lt Walter Stone in 2018.

In the summer of 2019, the team initiated a recovery mission of an MIA crewmember of a US bomber shot down over Belgium in 1944.  The covid pandemic prevented the team’s return to Belgium and completion of the search until June & July this year.  Zinnen will share his experiences and observations as part of the team in Belgium this summer and include a comparison to the team’s excavation in France in 2016, in which he also participated

Bio:  Tom Zinnen leads the BioTrek Public Outreach Program at the UW-Madison Biotechnology Center, and he is also a Biotechnology Education Extension Specialist with the Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H.  He studied biology at UW-Platteville, earned his master’s degree in plant pathology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and got his Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  After a post-doc at Agrigenetics Corporation in Madison, he spent six years at Northern Illinois University before returning to UW-Madison in 1991.  He was a Congressional Science Fellow on the staff of the House Committee on Agriculture in 2000-2001 and was on leave in 2008-2010 as a speechwriter for the director of the National Science Foundation.  Along with Sarah Schutt of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, he launched Wednesday NIte @ The Lab in 2006 and continues to serve as the WN@TL emcee.

Explore More:   





On September 14 Ana Caroline Paiva Gandara from the Department of Genetics and the Morgridge Institute will speak on “Climate Change & the Consequences of Suboptimal Temperatures on Reproduction.”

Description:  Changes in temperature have been reported worldwide due to climate change, as its affects the behavior of animals. So, it has become urgent to investigate how temperature impacts reproductive traits, such as gametogenesis and fertility. Insects are particularly sensitive to environmental temperatures because they cannot regulate their internal temperatures properly. These animals are extremely relevant due to public health, economic, and ecological reasons; they have representatives of disease vectors, agricultural pests, and pollinators. Despite the accumulated knowledge on the effect of temperature on insect reproductive fitness, cellular and molecular mechanisms are basically unknown. Studies on the effects of suboptimal temperatures on the reproduction of insects may pave the way for further research into the effects of climate change on the gamete quality of cattle, and pollinators under adverse environmental conditions. I am going to present a brief history of the studies of the effects of temperature on insect reproduction, with a focus on the fruit flies as a model system, passing through temperature sensing systems, and a few data about my own research on the topic.

Bio:  I was born in Brazil and have developed my whole scientific career at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ – Brazil. Most of my experience was studying biochemistry and redox metabolism of hematophagous insects, with a focus on NADPH-oxidase and mitochondria roles in the gut. Because of my early involvement with science, I could mentor many students, be on undergraduate committees and collaborate with different research groups, which has yielded me several publications as a co-author. Since high school, I have often been attending and presenting posters at different national and international scientific meetings. I have also been involved with university outreach and science communication practices, as lectures in high schools, live events for the lay public, articles to diverse science communication media, and becoming a permanent volunteer in the traditional science museum “Espaço Ciência Viva” at Rio de Janeiro city, as a specialist monitor. From February 2018 to June 2022, I worked at the BMB department at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as a postdoctoral fellow for Dr. Daniela Drummond-Barbosa. In July 2022, I started working as an Assistant Scientist at the Department of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and for Morgridge Institute for Research. Using the model system Drosophila melanogaster, I study the effects of thermal stress on gametogenesis. I want to pursue a career in academic research, as an insect stress physiology specialist.

Explore More:  Drummond-Barbosa Lab – Morgridge Institute for Research

Ana Caroline P Gandara (@acpgandara) / Twitter

Why fly? | droso4schools (wordpress.com)


Hope to see you soon, in person or by zoom, at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Tom ZinnenBiotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H

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