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Showing posts from January, 2017

We Speak Labanese Here

# allarewelcome I'm proud that my laboratory has always welcomed exceptional scientists from all over the world. We have benefited from the expertise of international experts that  brought their time, talents and friendship to make beautiful contributions to our scientific mission. 

Scientists: Strive for Proper Application of Outrage

It is heartwarming to see a little discontent inside scientific community.  To those of us with careers in the discipline, the daily assault on reason is part of the experience, and the scourge of fake news and evidence denial are well known.  We’ve watched it for decades with the frustration that empirical evidence and inconvenient truths were cast aside in policy discourse and public discussion, propagated by a complicit media.  Willful ignorance has spawned a hot planet, expensive ballot initiatives for warning labels on safe food, calls to teach about a 6,000 year old planet in science class, and outbreaks of diseases long believed to be defeated. And that’s the tip of a melting iceberg. Scientists, nice to see you raise a fist, but think before you fight. Scientists themselves have even ventured into the public discussion only to be falsely maligned everywhere from crank websites, to conspiracy radio shows, to the Old Gray Lady herself.  The outrage from the broader co

Targeting My Conversations with Journalists

The latest email grab by US-RTK asked for all of my email correspondence with a handful of journalists.  As a scientist that appreciates interaction with the public, journalists offer a pipeline to deliever science to those that wish to understand it. I'm grateful to have reputable contacts in the media to help share science. This organization is funded by borderline hate groups that seek to erode trust in scientists that convey a message counter to their beliefs and agenda. Climategate 101.   They always claim that this is about unveiling corporate tentacles in shaping science, which they never found after seizing 30,000 of my personal emails. Because it didn't happen. Now they want emails from journalists. Journalists?  That's some conspiracy!  And as always, in full compliance and ultimate transparency, my university harvested the requested emails from university archival severs and handed them over tout suite !  Scientists and journalists work together to

TB66 - Adjusting Plant Defenses

Following on last week’s episode , plants contain a family of genes called “R genes” that play important roles in resistance to disease. They are part of an evolutionary arms race between plants and pathogens.  Matt Helm is a graduate student at Indiana University in Roger Innes’ lab. They are working on reworking the networks that sense pathogens, hoping to adapt their sensitivity to threats not innately sensed. In other words, putting different different bait on the mousetrap in the interest of catching a different pest with the same hardware. LISTEN HERE.  Like the podcast?  Please subscribe and write a review!  Stitche r     iTunes     Player FM     TuneIn Follow Matt at @Mattdhelm Follow Kevin Folta at @kevinfolta

R Genes and Plant Disease -- This week's podcast.

Plants contain a family of genes called “R genes” that play important roles in resistance to disease.  Plants and pathogens exist in an evolutionary arms race, each developing new means to attack or defend against the other.  Professor Jonathan Jones has been at the forefront of R gene biology for decades.  How to plants use these specialized molecules to detect a pathogen?  How do pathogens evade detection?  How can these genes be mixed and matched between plants to create new varieties resistant to disease?  Hosted by Dr. Paul Vincelli. Follow Dr. Jones at @jonathandgjones Follow Dr. Paul Vincelli  @pvincell Listen to the podcast here or download from iTunes, Stitcher, etc. 

The Science Family is Doing Well

One of the unintended joys of my job is that over time I have developed an international club of collaborators, former postdocs and students. It is hard to travel anywhere and not have someone to meet for coffee or dinner, and this situation only amplifies when I visit a major college town.  This week I spoke at the North Carolina Commodities Conference in Raleigh NC.  Turns out that two of the undergrads that worked in my lab used that experience to find great positions in Research Triangle Park.  Both are doing very well and I'm super proud of them.  I had a chance to grab a beer(s) and catch up with them.  Visiting with two former students, now in great careers.  Those are the papers we co-authored while they were in my program. As strange coincidence would have it, Dr. Qinghua Gao was also at NC State.  Qinghua is one of my best friends in the world.  We had such a wonderful time working together for a year back in 2007, and I've visited his lab in Shanghai seve

Cleveland Clinic Quackery?

You don't have to be in medicine to understand that the Cleveland Clinic has a tremendous reputation for research and clinical care. They were the reason I always hoped that if I were to blow a bio-gasket or have  "The Grabber"  I'd do it in in front of the Frank Zappa display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-- a stone's throw from this esteemed institution.    But their social media presence does not reflect excellence in medicine.  To the contrary, it reflects an acceptance of alternative medicine quackery and wacky medical advice.  I figured that they hired the Food Babe's sister to run their Twitter feed.  Today they seriously crossed the line.  Their Twitter feed promoted an article in the local Cleveland paper. Both Dr. Clay Jones and Johnathan Jarry noticed and discussed in tweet-space.  I had to check it out.  I thought it was satire.   It wasn't.  It's a medical Cleveland Steamer.  Enter Dr. Daniel Niedes.   This is the year

This Week's Podcast - Effective Communication with Critics

When we discuss new technology with the public, there is inevitable fear and push back with at least a fraction of those we are trying to reach. How we address this is critical in our own credibility.  Jay Baer is an author and consultant in customer service and marketing.  He has written the book  Hug Your Haters , a book that outlines the value of criticism and the proper ways to address it.  These concepts are especially important in the days of social media. These tips from marketing translate well to science communication, as we attempt to share science with an oftentimes skeptical audience. LISTEN HERE

Journalistic Merchants of Doubt Seek to Destroy Trust in Science

In last week's New York Times , reporter Danny Hakim once again provides a political cherry picking that strives to harm public perception of science.  Hakim is part of a cadre of journalists that clearly have personal disdain for conventional farming, particularly if it is supported by technologies from biotech seed companies.   His series in the New York Times is called Uncertain Harvest , an ironic term seeing as though food security in this country and around the world has never been better.  Thanks to improvements in genetics and production techniques, the harvest has never been more certain.  There absolutely still is a lot of work to do. Food insecure regions of the world will benefit from new technologies. Our inner cities feature food deserts, areas of poverty devoid of healthy fresh food. Ag producers in the industrialized world will rely on new technology to help them  remain profitable and competitive.  There is no question of this in the scientific community.  Y