Stakeholder Capitalism—40 Years Later

Today’s blog is written by guest blogger, Penny Patterson, VP Corporate Communications at Promega.

The idea that businesses need to serve and provide value to constituents in addition to shareholders is one that has gained increasing recognition since last summer when the Business Roundtable issued its “Statement on the Purpose of the Corporation.”   The topic of what some call “stakeholder capitalism” is surfacing again heading into the World Economic Forum this week.

Promega has practiced “stakeholder capitalism” for more than 40 years and, as we’ve shared through our corporate responsibility reporting for the last decade, we have seen meaningful impact. From our founding in 1978, we have taken a “whole human” approach to our business. For us this means growing a financially stable and profitable company that considers and benefits science, employees, customers, community, shareholders and all global residents.

This approach starts with our people. We live the notion that every one of our employees has the potential to make a meaningful difference. And they do. Here are just a few examples. Our manufacturing and operations teams deliver with 99% accuracy and a complaint rate of 0.004%.  Discoveries by our R&D scientists generate some of the most read papers among key science journals. The average tenure of our leadership team is 18 years, and over half of these leaders grew their careers and capabilities at Promega.

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2019 Real-Time PCR Grant

Researching the Researchers:
Aberto Biscontin

The three 2019 Real-Time PCR Grant Winners have been hard at work in the six months since winning their grants. Each winner was eligible to receive up to $10,000 in free PCR reagents as well as the opportunity to collaborate with our knowledgeable technical service and training teams.

One of the 2019 winners, Alberto Biscontin (University of Padova, Italy), performs research in the fields of Neurogenetics and Chronobiology. He is looking to shed greater light on the circadian rhythms of the Antarctic krill. Alberto published his most recent analysis in Nature and GoTaq® qPCR Master Mix helped him validate expression of genes for his study.

His qPCR data showed support for internal mechanisms that not only support daily living but also clarified the overwintering process of the krill. Now that Alberto has sized up some zooplankton, we asked him to share a little more about himself and his research:

Q: How long have you been a researcher?
A: I have been a researcher since 2012.

Q: How did you decide to research Antarctic krill?
A: In 2013, I had the opportunity to join the international Antarctic research program PolarTime. [It] brought together eight research groups with different scientific expertise to study seasonal and daily rhythms in the Antarctic krill Euphausia superba.

Q: When you are not busy at the bench, what do you like to do?
A: Traveling. I love strolling through open-air markets.

Q: Are there any tips or tricks you have learned that make your job easier?
A: You can easily switch from a classic RT-PCR protocol to a cheaper and faster One-step protocol using the same primers and temperatures.

Q: What comes next?
A: I would like to characterize the clock machinery of other polar organisms to understand whether high latitude clocks have developed similar strategies to cope with [the] polar environment. Moreover, a better understanding of marine circadian clocks could help to shed light on the evolution of the animal circadian machinery.

You can find Alberto’s most recent publication in Nature Scientific Reports. The 2020 Real-Time PCR Grant will be coming soon. For more information on the 2019 winners and information on the 2020 Grant, visit the Real-Time Grant web page. Be sure to follow us on social media for the most up-to-date information regarding the 2020 Grant, including application deadlines and winner notifications!

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Following in My Parents’ Footsteps…42 Years later

Promega created a special incentive to reward field science consultants who help the scientific community via the Helix onsite stocking program. The winner had to meet ambitious criteria to receive 2 round-trip tickets to anywhere in the world, as well as a week of paid vacation and spending money. I won and choose to use my award to travel to Switzerland. Here is the story of my amazing trip!

This blog is written by guest blogger, Caitlin Cavanaugh.

Since I was a little girl, my parents have often reminisced about one of their favorite overseas trips taken to Switzerland in 1977. This was a trip that my parents term “BC”, which in our house refers to their fun, childless married days “Before Caitlin.” They’ve shared their photos many times of the snow capped mountains and lush, green valleys. The Swiss Alps look very different from peaks in the US, with their steep, jagged peaks and clear, blue lakes. As a nature lover and an avid hiker, I knew this would be the perfect destination to realize my love for the outdoors and to follow in the footsteps of my parents—42 years later.

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Halloween Costumes: Retro Science Style

“Back when I was in the lab…”: it seems like every former scientist has a story. Kind of like Thanksgiving Dinner among your elderly relatives, scientists are quick to one-up each other with horror stories from our days at the bench—stories that included escape artist rats, a leaky sequencing gel apparatus, and the iconic radioactively contaminated post doc.

We turned to our favorite science cartoonist, Ed Himelblau, to ask for some retro Halloween costumes based on stories of things that used to be common in the lab that don’t seem like such a great idea now. Enjoy…and if you have a few retro horror science costume ideas of your own, please share them.

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It Takes a Village: Automating Plasmid Purification for iGEM

Today’s blog is guest-written by Wihan Adi, a Master’s student majoring in physics at Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen and team member of iGEM Marburg. Although his background is in nuclear and particle physics, his research interests shifted toward affordable biosensors for point-of-care cancer detection, which is how he ended up doing microbiology for iGEM.


Back in March when the iGEM season had just started, Maurice, a fellow iGEM Marburg team member, told me that he was exchanging emails with Margaretha Schwartz from Promega. Given my background as a physics student, Promega was not a household name for me at the time. “So, are you interested in automating a plasmid purification protocol?” asked Maurice. He told me that Promega was willing to supply the Wizard® MagneSil® Plasmid Purification System for this purpose; that was another name that added to my confusion.

This year, iGEM Marburg is aiming to establish a fast phototrophic organism as a synthetic biology chassis. For this goal we chose Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973, with a reported doubling time of 90 minutes. More specifically, we are creating an easy to use toolbox to empower rapid design testing, including genome engineering tools, self-replicating plasmid systems, natural competence and a Golden Gate-based part library. Our team chose to work on phototrophic organisms because we envision accelerating research in this particular field. (Note: Last year, Marburg’s iGEM project won the Grand Prize!)

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Seeds of Change Award Recognizes Commitment to Local Community

Nicole Haselwander and Stephanie Shea accept the Seeds of Change award for Promega.

Community Shares of Wisconsin presented Promega with its Seeds of Change award for our workplace giving efforts. The award is presented to a local business that shows innovation, growth, and commitment to Community Shares of Wisconsin. Over the past 15 years Promega and our employees have collectively contributed more than $717,000 to Community Shares work! Our 100% corporate matching helps employee gifts go twice as far to member nonprofits and the community.

Charitable giving programs and paid time off for community service are examples of Promega’s commitment to corporate responsibility. Learn more at https://www.promega.com/responsibility #corporateresponsibility

Nicole Haselwander and Stephanie Shea were on hand at the Community Change-Maker Awards hosted by Community Shares of Wisconsin to accept the Seeds of Change award on behalf of Promega Corporation. “It was an incredibly inspiring and uplifting program,” says Stephanie.

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Promega Named One of Madison’s Best Places to Work

Promega Corporation today was named one of the “Best Places to Work” in the greater Madison area in Madison Magazine’s annual survey. Promega ranks fifth in the category of large companies with 101+ employees. The “Best Places to Work 2019” list includes 30 local workplaces.

“We are honored to be recognized among these great Madison companies that clearly value their employees and put people first,” says Gayle Paul, Director of Human Resources Operations at Promega. “Nurturing a work environment and culture that allows each person who works at Promega to realize their full potential benefits not only our business and customers, but also each employee, their families and our community as a whole.”

Are you looking for your Best Place to Work? Explore the career opportunities on our website.

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Promega Wins Economic Development Award

The CEDA awards program of the Wisconsin Economic Development Association recognizes businesses, projects and organizations that are making significant contributions to Wisconsin’s economy. Last week Promega won the Business Retention and Expansion award. short.url/aBcXyZ

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Experimenting with Resilience: Lessons from Grad School

Today’s blog is guest-written by Susanna Harris, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.


It’s one thing to hear that everything is going to be okay. It’s another to know it and make it that way.

Susanna and her lab mates at a recent bar night
Photo provided by Susanna Harris

At the end of a lab meeting where I had outlined my last of six years getting my PhD, my advisor announced she would be moving the lab from North Carolina to Massachusetts in about six months. Just when everything had settled into place, this announcement turned my bookshelf of plans on its side once again. Suddenly, I didn’t know what would happen next.

I chose to go to grad school partly to challenge myself to accept uncertainty. When I started my PhD in Microbiology in 2014, I thought this would mean reading new papers and adjusting experiments accordingly. As it has turned out, the real challenge has been to constantly get back up as life and graduate school knock me flat on my ass. Yes, I needed strength to power through, but even more than that, I needed resilience.

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When Five Hundred Tigers Are Not Enough—Ten Years Later

Ten years ago, I wrote about the distressing news of lack of genetic diversity in the wild Amur tiger population. International Tiger Day seemed like a good time to check in on what progress has been made to both sustain and establish wild tiger populations worldwide. In 2010, 13 tiger range countries (TRC) committed to a goal of doubling the world’s tiger population by 2022.

Amur Tiger.

That timeline was an ambitious goal, as highlighted by a report published in PLOS One in November of 2018 (1). The authors assessed the recovery potential of 18 sites identified under the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) Tigers alive initiative. The recovery system has several parts: A source site with higher density of tigers that the area around it and has a legal framework that does (or will) protect the tiger population; a recovery site that has a lower density of tigers than the surrounding regions, has the ability to support more tigers but is not as supported as a source site; and a support region that connects a source and recovery site. These different site types all require different levels of management, available resources and legal protections, but they need to be managed in a coordinated way.

Aside from what is needed to manage these recovery sites, there are also other things that need to exist to support recovery of tiger populations. Some of these include support from local populations and governments, as well as environmental requirements such as breeding habitats and prey populations. For 15 of the 18 sites it is the prey population that is the sticking point. Recovery of prey populations is a slow process. The authors concluded that there need to be a commitment to achieving a realistic recovery of tiger populations, even if we miss the 2022 goal.

The fate of the wild tiger is still tenuous. Only time will tell if the interventions that are being implemented can be realized in time.

Reference

  1. Abishek, H. et al. (2018) Recovery planning towards doubling wild tigers Panthera tigris numbers: Detailing 18 recovery sites from across the range. PLOS One 13. e0207114. published online