How did you become interested in squids as an experimental model?
My lab works mainly with mice. Other professors work with different organisms such as Drosophila, C. elegans, plants, and yeast at our university. One of them, Simon Sprecher, became interested in marine biology and started a course for students. I immediately thought that’s a great idea because it is something different, and few actually look deeply into the biology of marine organisms. The literature on squids is scarce and old, and they are challenging to keep in lab conditions. Yet, my colleague ordered Loligo vulgaris eggs from Villefranche Sur Mer in France and started establishing them to hatch and grow in Fribourg. He was successful. The next step was setting up experimentation. However, squids have brains, and to carry out experiments with them, we needed to apply for authorization from the Swiss Government. I helped out, but it was challenging because there were no standards and regulations, as nobody works on these animals in Switzerland. Now we are interested in studying the communication between squids. It is easy to observe how they change color, because they are transparent. The change in color is related to their stress level and mood.
What went into taking the image “One Out”?
I’ve been a hobby photographer since I am ten years old. So when I went to my colleague’s lab and looked at the baby squids, I said, “Ohh, they are beautiful.” They looked really stunning, and some of them started changing colors in front of me. I thought that was a fascinating behavior, and I wanted to capture that.
Baby squids are transparent and colorful. I had to think about how I could best picture them. I decided to have them in a Petri dish and put them on a stand with lighting coming from below on a black background. I made several images. On one of them, there was this situation where one of the squids was changing color. It was very different from all the others. It immediately came to my mind that something was happening. They were communicating.
After a long hiatus sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Promega Art Showcase will return next week with a new exhibition titled “A Vibrant Welcome Back!”
Promega Art Showcase
Why is a biotechnology company hosting an art show?
At its core, science is rooted in creativity. Scientists investigate the unknown and search for novel solutions that can improve our quality of life. We believe that observing and creating art reenergizes the imagination, inspiring scientists to look from new perspectives and step outside of the norms.
Promega has hosted quarterly art showcases in the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center since 1996. These showcases are open to the public and have featured the work of local, national and international artists. Past shows have included sculptors, folk artists, photographers, and painters. The December-March show each year features artwork by Promega employees and their family members.
The 2022 Summer Art Showcase features the work of Derrick Buisch, a painter and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, alongside Bettina Madini, a European contemporary artist and fashion designer.
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.
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, known now as “Major Groove”.
“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?”
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 “Promega Art Showcases Explore Creativity, Science and the Unknown”
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 “My Daughter Hates Circle Time”
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 “On being wrong…”
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