Outside the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center, the wind snakes through the tall prairie grasses, drying slowly in the crisp September air. The walking paths through the woods are turning orange with fallen leaves, and the resident sandhill cranes, a fixture of summer at Promega Madison, will soon be heading to their winter home in southern Florida.
Inside the BTC, the Promega Fall Art Showcase is honoring the life of Truman Lowe, an acclaimed Ho-Chunk artist whose sculptural works evoke a powerful connection with nature. For decades, Lowe was a professor in the Department of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was an exceptional mentor to young artists. He was known for encouraging artists to fearlessly delve into their artistic voice and equipping them with the necessary tools to navigate the art world. The Fall Art Showcase honors his legacy by exhibiting his art alongside pieces by several former students.
Truman Lowe: Visionary Artist, Mentor and Teacher
Truman Lowe was born on the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin reservation in 1944. He recounted a childhood of drawing with rocks on the Black River and creating crafts like baskets and beadwork with his parents. Though he loved art from an early age, Lowe says that he never thought of art as a profession until he was studying for his undergraduate art degree at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. There, he became fascinated with Michelangelo, who inspired him to realize that art could be “a profession as well as a passion.”1
After earning a graduate degree and moving through several teaching positions at the high school and university level, Lowe accepted a position as Native American studies coordinator and assistant professor of art at UW-Madison in 1975. This began a 45-year tenure in the department of art, where he fostered a deep understanding and appreciation for Native American art and culture among his students. He also served as a curator of contemporary art at the National Museum of the American Indian.
Lowe is known for large, site-specific installations that use natural materials including wood, stone and metal. His works push creative boundaries and exhibit a unique blend of versatility, precision and emotional depth. Lowe’s sculptures have been exhibited around the world, from museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art to embassies in Bolivia and Cameroon. A sculpture titled Effigy: Bird Form was displayed on the White House grounds during the Clinton administration and was recently reinstalled atop Observatory Hill at UW-Madison, close to the former site of Native American effigy mounds.
Lowe, who died in 2019, was a beloved mentor to many students over his long tenure at UW-Madison. A university-published obituary quotes John Hitchcock, professor and Associate Dean at UW-Madison, saying, “Truman encouraged us to stay strong as artists and to our vision as makers.” The widespread love of Lowe will be on display at the Promega Fall Art Showcase, where six of his former students will be exhibiting alongside Lowe’s own works.
Promega Fall Art Showcase
The Fall Art Showcase opened on September 19 with a symposium featuring guest speakers Patricia marroquin Norby and Jo Ortel. Norby is the Associate Curator of Native American Art at the metropolitan Museum of Art, and the first person of Indigenous descent hired for a full-time curatorial position in the museum’s 150-year history. Jo Ortel is an author, art historian and Professor Emerita of Art History of Beloit College. Ortel is also the author of a notable biography of Truman Lowe titled “Woodland Reflections: The Art of Truman Lowe.”
The Promega Culinary Team collaborated with Chef Elena Terry of the culinary organization Wild Bearies to offer traditional Ho-Chunk food at the reception. Chef Terry provided recipes and connected the team with indigenous purveyors to source ingredients. Promega also collaborated with Little Eagle Arts Foundation to include pieces of Ho-Chunk culture into the event.
The Fall Art Showcase runs through December 29 and is open to the public Monday through Friday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Promega BioPharmaceutical Technology Center. For more information, visit https://www.promega-artshow.com/
1As quoted in Woodland Reflections: The Art of Truman Lowe by Jo Ortel
In today’s world of social networking, LinkedIn has emerged as the clear winner for professionals in all industries. With its powerful networking capabilities and innovative career development features, LinkedIn has revolutionized how individuals connect, collaborate and advance their careers.
In this blog you will hear from some of Promega’s interns as they share valuable advice for early career scientists looking to expand their network, establish meaningful connections and propel their career forward.
Meet the Interns
Simone Shen Position at Promega: Research Scientist Intern University: University of Wisconsin-Madison Area of Study: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Academic Year: 4th year PhD student
Rachel Carrier Position at Promega: Product Marketing Intern, Genomic Solutions University: University of Wisconsin-Madison Area of Study: Operations & Technology Management and Life Sciences Communication Academic Year: Undergraduate Senior
Kendra Hanslik Position at Promega: Cell Health & Functional Analysis Marketing Intern University: University of Wisconsin-Madison Area of Study: Neuroscience Academic Year: 5th year PhD Student
Jorge Antonio Position at Promega: Research Scientist Intern, R&D Assay Design University: University of Wisconsin-Madison Area of Study: Reproductive Physiology Academic Year: PhD Candidate
How do you see other Scientists/Professionals using LinkedIn?
Simone: “LinkedIn is kind of like professional Facebook for scientists. As an example, instead of posting pictures about their beloved pets or reposting funny viral videos, people are posting pictures of themselves in front of their poster at a scientific conference or reposting career or professional development opportunities on LinkedIn.”
Rachel: “I see my network of emerging young professionals using LinkedIn to showcase their accomplishments, spread ideas and voice opinions. It’s a great platform to stay connected with people and see what they’re up to in their career development journey. I’ve loved staying up to date on my peers’ accomplishments and goals, while also learning about other fields outside my typical interests through the content they share.
Many industry leaders I follow post about new developments in the science and technology field, process improvements, and product launches, which helps to keep my knowledge current and well-rounded outside of academia and the news. Those who are more established in their career sometimes take on a role of spreading helpful tips and industry knowledge which helps inspire and inform those earlier in their career.”
Kendra: “Scientists and other professionals use LinkedIn in a variety of ways. It is a great place to keep in touch with previous colleagues and to follow their career progress. After all, you never know when you will need to recruit for a position or be interested in getting your foot in the door with a company they’re working for down the road. LinkedIn also provides a space for you to share your scientific research and to elaborate on your professional experience, which is helpful for employers who may not be asking for a CV and want to know more. I have seen scientists share job postings on LinkedIn too, so it is a place to consider for job searching.”
Jorge: “Networking is everything, and LinkedIn is a platform that helps individuals connect with colleagues, researchers, industry professionals and potential collaborators. I think it is a very easy way to connect with colleagues and explore potential collaborations. The platform also offers some interesting discussions in science specialized fields.”
Why Should an Early Career Scientist use LinkedIn?
Simone: “We often hear people say that it is important to “network,” but for early career scientists, where can we even start? LinkedIn can be a great place to start. [LinkedIn] can be especially beneficial for early career scientists to start building their network since it can be a lot less daunting to shoot someone a message on LinkedIn versus knocking on someone’s office door. Besides that, LinkedIn is also an easy way to search for job openings and professional development opportunities.”
Rachel: “It’s a great platform for staying engaged in career development outside of your organization and forming meaningful connections. I’ve found that by building and staying connected with my LinkedIn network, I’m able to develop meaningful relationships that help guide me in the direction I want to go in my career. From developing mentor/mentee relationships with people whose work I’m inspired by to staying connected with past employers, LinkedIn is an extremely useful tool for anyone early in their career looking to explore and learn.
LinkedIn also has a learning platform where you can take short courses and earn certificates from industry leaders in a variety of disciplines. This is another great benefit if you’re looking to dip your toe in the water of other skills outside of your field or strengthen ones you already have.”
Kendra: “As a budding scientist, it is crucial to make connections as these may turn into collaborations later in your career or provide you with a professional development opportunity in the future. With science becoming increasingly collaborative, LinkedIn is necessary for expanding your professional network and broadening your future career opportunities.”
Jorge: “LinkedIn is free and easy to use. Academic institutions, research centers, and other companies use LinkedIn to advertise job openings and recruit talent. Scientists can explore career opportunities, receive notifications about relevant positions, and showcase their skills and expertise to attract potential employers. Scientists can also follow trends in their field of interest.”
How are you using LinkedIn to build your network and/or showcase your scientific work?
Simone: “When I go to conferences, I would include a QR code for my LinkedIn profile on my poster, so if people who stop by my poster are interested in my work, they could connect with me. LinkedIn is a great way to stay in contact with people. You never know when one of your connections could help you land an interview for a position at a company.”
Rachel: “I’ve stayed diligent connecting with those I meet throughout my academic and interning journey over the years as a way to build my network for gaining advice, mentorships, and keeping up to date on what companies are up to.”
Kendra: “I primarily use LinkedIn to connect with professionals I may want to contact in the future. I add connections that I meet around campus and at professional development events. To me, LinkedIn is kind of like a phone book. They are contacts you can come back to when you may be looking for a new position or a career change. As a graduate student, I found it helpful for setting up informational interviews to get a better grasp of what I want to pursue post-graduation.”
Jorge: “LinkedIn helps me to stay connected to individuals who live far away or whom I haven’t seen in a while. Posting about my research is a way I can show my academic progress and leadership skills.”
What advice would you give to an early career scientist trying to build their network and/or showcase their scientific work on LinkedIn?
Simone: “I would recommend keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date and don’t be afraid to send people an invitation to connect. Additionally, following companies’ LinkedIn pages can be another way to stay informed on potential career opportunities.”
Rachel: “I would advise early career professionals to take advantage of all the features LinkedIn has to offer. It’s easy to fire off a connection to someone and forget about it a few hours later, but starting a conversation and engaging with the people you connect with can help foster a much more meaningful connection. Especially for those of us who are very early in their career development, many people are eager to give advice or share their experiences.”
Kendra: “Building a network can be scary, especially for those who tend to be introverted. You tend to get into your head about the entire interaction. Well, the truth is that we’re all humans looking to connect and people really like to share their story. So, ask questions and listen, just be a normal human who cares and is curious to learn from others. Never hesitate to ask someone to grab a coffee so you can learn about their career path. The best advice to remember is that “the worst they can say is no.” You take yourself out of the equation immediately if you don’t ask.”
Jorge: “Be proactive and serious about professional connections on LinkedIn. Ask for connections with colleagues and mentors. Reach out to colleagues, classmates, professors and mentors from your academic and research circles.
LinkedIn is a great place to show your values and career goals. Make your LinkedIn profile honest, not perfect. Showcase your educational background, research experience, skills and achievements. Include keywords related to your field of expertise, but don’t forget to update these if your career changes direction.”
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of creating a profile and building your network, take this final piece of advice from Kendra: “Take baby steps and don’t overthink it. If you are just starting to focus on building your LinkedIn profile, choose a goal then break it down into smaller tasks that you can conquer over time.”
Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to an impressive profile, meaningful connections, and countless new opportunities.
As an early career scientist, you may have already realized that the key to a successful career is not just an impressive resume or CV, but a strong professional network. In today’s interconnected digital age, there is no better platform to build this network than LinkedIn. With more than 930 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for connecting with professionals in your industry, exploring job opportunities, and building your personal brand.
In this blog, I’ll cover everything you need to know to establish a strong presence on LinkedIn and achieve your professional goals.
Creating a Strong Profile
Your profile can either make or break your success on LinkedIn. A well-crafted profile has the potential to create lasting impressions and open doors to new career and networking opportunities. Below are a few tips to help you create a profile that is sure to impress potential connections and employers:
If you could, would you enter a suspended metabolic state for the chance to reawaken 46,000 years from now, as you are today? For one nematode discovered in Siberian permafrost, the answer is a resounding “yes”. A study published in late July of this year details recent research that expands on a paper published in 2018 wherein scientists announced that they successfully reanimated a small but resilient nematode, or roundworm, who remained alive for tens of thousands of years in a state called cryptobiosis after being frozen in extreme Arctic soil conditions.
The human microbiome, the bustling cooperative of all the microscopic creatures that naturally colonize in and on our bodies, wields a surprising amount of influence over many of the unseen processes that are critical to our overall health and wellness. Over the course of decades, we have learned that this is particularly true for the microbes that reside in our gastrointestinal tract, collectively known as our gut microbiota.
Our gut microbiota is constantly communicating with our bodies, though our relationship with our gut can feel like trying to have a conversation with someone who only speaks a language we do not know or understand—you can take an educated guess at what they are saying based on their expressions and gestures, but the true message and meaning behind their actions is not always discernable. So while we can feel that someone in our gut is unhappy when we have a tummy ache, the true mechanism behind exactly who is unhappy and why, is not as obviously deduced or understood.
What if there was a tool that could help us more easily interpret the language of our microbiota, giving us the means to both better understand our microbiomes as well as to detect biomarkers of various diseases? Recent studies have shown that such a solution may be (quite literally) right under our noses: our breath.
Mosquitos are the deadliest animal on earth—not because of the itchy bites they leave behind, but because of the diseases those bites can spread. Of these diseases, malaria, is the most widespread, killing 619,000 people in 2021 (1). Almost half of the world’s population live at risk of malaria (2). In humans, malaria is caused by certain species of single-cell micro-organisms belonging to the genus Plasmodium (3), which are transmitted by anopheline mosquitos.
Controlling malaria has proven challenging. Vaccines have yielded incomplete protection, and insecticides that once were successful at control mosquito populations are becoming less effective as the insects develop resistance. Finally, Plasmodium parasites themselves have developed resistance to leading anti-malaria drugs (2).
A New Weapon In The Fight Against Malaria
Approaches that target the disease-causing Plasmodium organisms—inside the mosquito and before they are transmitted to humans—could provide as effective way forward. In the past, researchers have explored leveraging genetically modified bacterium to kill or inhibit Plasmodium development within their mosquito host. However, using genetically altered bacteria makes wide-spread adoption of these techniques problematic. A recent study published in Science describes the discovery and early investigative results using a naturally occurring bacterial strain that inhibits Plasmodium spread (2). The bacteria, Delftia tsuruhatensis TC1, was isolated from a mosquito population that unexpectedly became resistant to Plasmodium infection (2).
Once the bacterium was identified as the cause of Plasmodium inhibition, the researchers tested how easily the bacteria was to introduce into naïve mosquitos and how effective it was at disrupting infection. To do this, they colonized female mosquitos by feeding them a sugar and bacterium solution and then Plasmodium-infected blood. Bacterial colonization occurred in almost all the mosquitos offered the sugar and bacterium food. Initially, bacterial colonization numbers were low, but they increased 100-fold following the blood meal.
Inhibiting Oocyte Formation Disrupts Cycle of Infection
Investigation into how D. tsuruhatensis inhibits Plasmodium infection showed that it inhibits oocyte formation within the gut, and this inhibition lasts for at least 16 days. Specifically, the inhibition is the result of a secreted compound called harmane, which is a small hydrophobic methylated b-carboline (2). When harmane is secreted in the guts of mosquitos it inhibits Plasmodium parasite development. The researchers further found that feeding harmane alone to mosquitos, or allowing it to be absorbed through direct contact produced the same results, but the inhibitory effects only lasted a few days (2).
No matter how harmane is introduced into the gut (directly or through bacterial colonization), the inhibition of oocyte formation results in a decrease in infectivity. Only one third (33%) of mice bitten by Plasmodium-infected, D. tsuruhatensis-colonized mosquitos become infected. This contrasts sharply with the 100% infection rate seen with mice bitten by non-colonized, Plasmodium-infected mosquitos (2). Further testing the researchers also showed that D. tsuruhatensis is not transferred during feeding, suggesting that that bacterium is unlikely to in introduced into mammals through colonized mosquitos.
To investigate how colonization and infection rates would correlate in a ‘real world’ environment, the researchers used a large (10 × 10 × 5 meter) enclosure that replicated the mosquitos’ natural environment. Once again, the mosquitos were colonized with D. tsuruhatensis through overnight feeding of the sugar and bacterium solution. They found ~75% of the mosquitos were colonized by D. tsuruhatensis in this time period.They also found that larvae reared in water seeded with D. tsuruhatensis experienced 100% colonization. In both scenarios, Plasmodium oocyte development was disrupted just as it had been in the laboratory-raise population (2).
Finally, the researchers found that D. tsuruhatensis colonization doesn’t occur between individuals between parent and offspring. For controlling Plasmodium, this means that inoculation with D. tsuruhatensis would require ongoing maintenance. However, it also decreases the risk of a contaminated strain being amplified uncontrollably if released, making it less risky.
Malaria mitigation and control requires a multipronged effort. Using naturally occurring, symbiotic, microbes such as D. tsuruhatensis is one approach that shows promise. There is still a lot of work to be done before this bacterium could be used outside of a controlled environment, including understanding how the bacterium might interact with other plants and animals from the same ecosystem.
It has been more than 100 years since Dr. William B. Coley, known today as the “Father of Immunotherapy,” made the first recorded attempt to mobilize the immune system as a means of treating cancer (9). Decades later, the discovery of T cells and the vital role they play in the immune system set the groundwork for many new immunotherapy treatments, such as those involving monoclonal antibodies, cytokines, CAR T cells, and checkpoint inhibitors.
In the murky depths of the ocean live some of the smartest and most unusual creatures to inhabit the earth. Octopuses are known for their sucker covered tentacles and chameleon-like abilities to change color, pattern and shape to blend it with their environment. The changes aren’t limited to just their appearance. A new study published in Cell reveals that they can change their brains as well (1). The study found that octopuses recode their brain in response to environmental temperature changes using RNA editing.
What do you wear to a job interview at a biotechnology company? How should your resume be formatted? What questions do you ask to ensure the role is a good fit?
“My mentor guided me through job applications, including helping me identify the things that were important to me in a job,” says Jazmin Santiesteban. “While we were talking about those things, she asked if I would be interested in applying to Promega.”
Jazmin received the D.O.O.R.S. Scholarship in 2021, before her senior year at Lawrence University. That scholarship program helped Jazmin develop new skills and cultivate connections that eventually led her to a job at Promega after graduation.
“I love it so far,” she says. “I don’t know where my career may take me, but right now I want to build a longer future at Promega.”
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