Where Science and Art Meet: The 2017 Holiday Card

The Promega Holiday Card

The Promega Holiday Card

University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduate Celia Glime didn’t think she was creating a design for the 2017 Promega holiday card while doing lab work last winter for her introductory Chemistry 104 class. She was simply doing her homework.

Celia explains she was studying the progression of three chemical reactions in test tubes when she decided to take out her smartphone and snap some photos to use for her lab report. (Bonus points if you can tell from the photo what’s causing each reaction. Answers below.)

“I ended up creating an art project instead,” she says.

Celia, who at the time was considering a major in genetics and a minor in visual art, had been keeping an eye out for instances of science in real life. Her mentor on campus, Professor Ahna Skop, a geneticist and artist herself, had recently told Celia about the annual University of Wisconsin Cool Science Image Contest, sponsored by Promega. The contest aims to bring together the worlds of science and art by recognizing the technical and creative skills required to capture images or video that document science or nature.

Celia did exactly that. Continue reading

Promega Employees Find Their Muse in Company Band

Becky Guy (keyboard), Randy  Dimond (left), Eric Vincent (Trombone) play for the Promega Employee Recognition Meeting as part of Lead Generation.

Becky Guy (keyboard), Randy Dimond (left), Eric Vincent (Trombone) play for the Promega Employee Recognition Meeting as part of Lead Generation.

Musicians wait onstage as the sound tech adjusts the cables around them. He signals “OK” and runs back through the seats of the empty auditorium to the mixing board. The musicians all dressed in black, instruments in hand, prepare to play. Four sharp whacks from the drummer’s sticks and music fills the space. Horns, keyboards, electric guitar, bass, and harmonica back singers as they belt out the upbeat earworm Drive It Like You Stole It. They sound great and make it look pretty effortless too, which is why it’s hard to believe these “rock stars” are also scientists, marketers, IT specialists, lawyers, you name it, who make up the Promega employee band, Lead Generation. (Thank marketing for the name.)

“Lead Generation is just one of the many opportunities at Promega that make it truly unique,” says Kris Zimmerman, a research scientist who sings and plays trumpet with the band. “Any kind of expression of creativity can help you to have different perspectives and be a better problem solver. Fostering an environment where collaboration and creativity are rewarded really helps to create a sense of belonging, and creates a vibe of excitement that you don’t find just anywhere. Plus how cool is it to tell people that you play in a band? At work?”

Continue reading

Promega Art Showcases Explore Creativity, Science and the Unknown

A visitor studies a piece at the current Promega Art Showcase.

A visitor studies a piece at the current Promega Art Showcase.

Albert Einstein once wrote: “to raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.” The marriage of science and creativity, it seems, is indispensable for exploration and the discovery of new ideas.

As a life sciences company, Promega supports the work of scientists who are tasked with unraveling mysteries and who ask questions in an effort to get answers that improve the lives of others. Because creative thinking plays a key role in the scientific discovery process, Promega supports artistic exploration in many forms. As an organization, we appreciate that creativity reinforces the type of imagination that inspires scientific progress and innovation.

Since 1996, Promega Corporation has sponsored quarterly art showcases at the Promega BioPharmaceutical Technology Center on East Cheryl Parkway in Fitchburg, WI. This artistic initiative came about in an effort to explore the depths of creativity and science, and to demystify biotechnology and the work of Promega for our community. Promega Art Showcases, which occur four times per year and are open to the public, have featured the work of local, national and international artists, as well as the art of Promega employees. Continue reading

My Daughter Hates Circle Time

My daughter has been in a learning center environment for all of her early years. One hallmark of that environment—something that happens in every class she has been in since age 2—is “circle time”.

Circle time is an unquestioned tradition of early childhood education in the USA. A Google search of “circle time” on the web quickly produces a host of curricula, sites with songs for circle time, and suggestions for circle time activities for toddlers. Even early childhood educator forums discuss the topic in great length.

However, at the risk of being labeled an educational heretic, I am going to ask some questions about circle time. Where did it get its start? What is the empirical evidence that circle time actually accomplishes the things that everyone says it does? It possible that circle time, this so honored educational tradition, also may be a mechanism for crushing creativity? Continue reading

On being wrong…

I am wrong. A lot. I am ready to admit it.

Case in point, this past week, my husband and son decided to take some time and enjoy our summer.  On Tuesday, we decided to go to the Milwaukee Zoo. Because I am a bit of a crazy perfectionist (who may or may not be a tad obsessive), it’s possible that I may have slightly over prepared for this relaxing activity. I printed coupons, maps, and details instructions on how to get to the zoo. I had prepared an itinerary that included train rides, the antique carousel, seeing all the animals, attending the seal show, and of course an amazing picnic lunch. I packed water bottles, sun block, mosquito repellent, and extra socks.  We were going to have a fantastic day.

Forty-five minutes into the trip, I realized that I forgot the backpack containing all of those amenities, including directions on the kitchen table.  I was (extremely) mad at myself, but I knew that I remembered the directions exactly.  Being the somewhat controlling driver, I navigated the way I was SURE was the right way, even as my husband pointed to the sign that said “Milwaukee County Zoo” as it was flying by.   He may have politely suggested that I missed the exit. I may have ignored him. 

I knew I remembered the number of the exit and it was not that one. I was right. He was wrong. I was sure of it. (Insert exasperated sigh here.) Continue reading

Playing to Foster Creativity and Innovation

My three-year-old daughter runs into the kitchen where I am preparing tonight’s dinner. “Can we go play now?”

“Not right now, I need to get dinner ready.”

I set the famous family pasta sauce to simmer, giving it one more quick stir, fill the heavy duty pasta pot with water to boil and start slicing bread to make garlic toast.

“Now?” She comes back in and asks.

“No, not now. I’m still working. Do you want to help?”

“Yes. I spread butter.” So she takes her finger, pokes it into the softened butter, and runs away eating the clump of butter on her finger.

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I am the youngest, with older siblings who introduced me to Monty Python at an early age, but I really didn’t gain an appreciation for the work of John Cleese until my husband introduced me to the British comedy Faulty Towers. I have never laughed so hard—what a good cardiac workout . So, when my supervisor told me about an online video clip of John Cleese talking about creativity as I was preparing a workshop on writers block, I was interested. Continue reading