If we’re going to label GMOs, let’s do it sensibly

In my last “Let’s talk biotech” post, I discussed how challenging it is to define whether a genetically improved plant is technically a “GMO”. Determining if a given food item contains genetically modified ingredients is even more difficult. There has been a lot of recent discussion about GMO labeling. On one side, you’ll hear that … Continue reading If we’re going to label GMOs, let’s do it sensibly

3 Surprising Facts About Plants: Immunity, Indeterminacy, and Immortality

As an undergraduate, I sat through human biology lectures, shouldered up with ambitious pre-meds at the University of Colorado. When they marched off to anatomy, I wandered into the councilor’s office, wondering what biology careers don't require memorizing musculature. I met with professor emeritus and plant biotechnology enthusiast Andrew Staehelin who insisted, “you should get a PhD … Continue reading 3 Surprising Facts About Plants: Immunity, Indeterminacy, and Immortality

What is a GMO? This seemingly simple question is difficult to answer, and it’s about to get a whole lot tougher.

It’s no mystery that GMO stands for genetically modified organism, but what exactly does that mean? You might have heard claims like: “we’ve been genetically modifying organisms for centuries” That's arguably true. Modern corn is about as similar to its ancestor “teosinte” as corgis are to wolves. Breeding has allowed us to select for useful … Continue reading What is a GMO? This seemingly simple question is difficult to answer, and it’s about to get a whole lot tougher.

Hands-on Activity: Central Dogma of Biology

As part of the Sacramento Powerhouse Science Center’s Science Communication Fellows Program, I worked with educators to develop a hands on teaching module to describe my graduate research at the University of California in Davis. I focused on the foundational subject of gene expression, sometimes called the “central dogma of biology”. In the central dogma, … Continue reading Hands-on Activity: Central Dogma of Biology