Thursday, September 21, 2017

Yeast domestication

There is this fascinating article about yeast genetics.  The number of bread yeasts is pretty small in this study, probably because graduate students prefer beer to bread, but it is surprising how much variation there is in yeast genetics.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The eclipse was awesome!!!!

We went to my friend Jon's sister's house - which sounds way complicated,  but it was a great time.  I was surprised how emotional the moment was when the sun was completely covered by the moon and the corona of the sun was visible with a few bright spots where there edge of the moon has a crater.  

I wish I had a picture of the corona, but the moment was pretty fast and I was surprised how visible it was and I doubted I could capture that with my iphone camera.  I could see in that moment Mercury near the sun, Venus brightly off to the left and another planet to the right of the sun.  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Back to school

This summer went way too fast. 

Our summer activity list in no particular order. 

1. Camping at Onandaga caves
2. Visiting colleges with Emily - Go Truman State!
3. Swimming at the pool
4. Science museum
5. Roasting marshmallows and hotdogs
6. Birthday parties
7. Leila's family visiting
8. Kate turned eight and was baptized
9. My car accident
10. Biking to work
11. Iowa state fair
12. Fireworks
13. Swim team
14. Garden
15. Deer and raccoons
16. Biking to work
17. A bike for every kid 
18. Kate and Becca learning to swim
19. Johnson shut ins swimming
20. Emily's drivers license
21. Trips to LA and Davis, CA
22. Canola
23. Peaches
24. Farmers market
25. Weedy flower beds
26. Ms Pam's trampoline
27. Picnic at the park
28. Onandoga cave tours

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Data on government

Monday, July 10, 2017

Kate, in her own words

I at the swim meet and I got first place 🥇 ! I am so happy and I love going to swim meet and the hotdogs at do good I love saint Louis!🏳️‍🌈

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, July 03, 2017

The quinoa trend in google searches.

Google trends results

Quinoa has continued to grow in popularity.  The graph above shows search trends over time for quinoa, in blue, compared to kale, in red, and amaranth, in yellow. Quinoa has continued to increase, although it probably still is a fad food and not a true staple, because of the uptick in searches each January in the United states.  This is probably because it is a healthy grain with high and balanced protein content, and is easy to cook as a substitute for rice. 

From Wikipedia commons
By User:MarkusHagenlocher - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

But, the story of quinoa is not just that of a fad food.  It is native to the highlands of Bolivia and Peru, and a staple crop for indigenous populations.  When I was in Bolivia working on Bolivia it was not eaten even in Lima very often because it was seen as a poor person's food and an indigenous crop, but that had a negative connotation.  People described it as an "indio" food - which is a very negative thing.  Leila made a number of different quinoa recipes and we invited visitors to try them.

One of the almost mythic stories from when I worked in Bolivia was about the germplasm collection of quinoa varieties.  Alejandro Bonifacio was the breeder I worked with, and he had about 2-3000 quinoa varieties, previously owned by the Bolivian government. I need to interview him and Amalia about the period where the government decided to stop funding the collection and the experiment station and seeds were burned during a protest about government land redistribution.  Alejandro rescued the collection at great personal risk and danger.  It survived because of funding from private donors like PROINPA, the Benson Institute and the McKnight Foundation.

The other cautionary tale from the history of quinoa was a breeding effort from the USDA that used Bolivian germplasm and their development of an improved variety with male sterility.  The Bolivian government, popular press, and public erupted because this was "bio-piracy." Stories ranted that US researchers were stealing the inheritance of native Bolivians and were going to make them pay a royalty for growing their traditional crops.  US researchers, Sarah Ward and Duane Johnson, let the patent application go, but consequences of this for quinoa research still reverb. 

These skeptics often cite an incident at the Patacamaya research station, which local farmers sacked and burned in 1998 in the name of rural land redistribution. In the process, they destroyed seed canisters containing Bolivia’s largest gene bank for quinoa — 1,900 varieties, collected over decades. By a stroke of luck, Bonifacio was then running an experiment for which a duplicate of the collection had been parceled out to grow at two distant research stations.1 Otherwise, the gene bank would have been lost.


Turtles on the move

I found this turtle trying to cross the road by my work. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book idea - The story of quinoa

I have been debating what I want to do with this blog.  I have not been very dedicated to posting, as the few of you that check have noticed.  I had an epiphany that I would update from my phone instead of logging in to the computer and writing, but blogger I do not think is Google's top priority. They cut the iphone app and even cut sharing links from youtube and google+.  I have thought about cutting over to a different provider or paying to get a dedicated website, but for now I will leave it as it is, because that is the lazy way?

Meanwhile, I have thought about what things I would be more dedicated about writing about and what people may be interested in reading.  I wondered this morning if it would be worth trying to get the framework of a book about quinoa written here.  I studied the genetics of quinoa for my masters degree in 2000-2002 at BYU.  Quinoa was not a superfood then.  You couldn't buy it at the supermarket or eat it on a salad at Panera.  It was an orphan crop of interest to the Benson Institute at BYU and to indigenous farmers in Bolivia, Peru and Chile.

But, the foundation was there for it to become a food fad.  Production was increasing thanks to the almost solitary efforts of  Alejandro Bonifacio and a few others in Bolivia that had rescued the germplasm collection from destruction and developed improved varieties with decreased saponins - bitter soapy chemicals on the outside of the seeds, and increased yields.  PROIMPA was starting to promote it and other "superfoods" were talked up on Oprah and other talk shows.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Luna Moth!!!!

I found this Luna moth in the parking garage yesterday morning as I was biking in to work.  I was worried that someone had hit it with their car and it was injured, but it was just hunkered down for the day.  This is one of the prettiest moths.  I would have assumed they are pretty rare since I have never seen one before, but Wikipedia says they are common but are rarely seen because as an adult they only live a few days and are mostly out at night.  Based on the pictures there I think this is a female.  

Can you imagine all of the effort it takes to make the biological conversion to this, only to wear the wings and color for a few days? Or that the adult form moth doesn't have a mouth and so doesn't eat anything, just existing to mate, avoid predators and then die of starvation?

Art Show Highlights


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Being 4 is hard

Becca has been frustrated with life lately.  I keep thinking as a parent that I would have figured out how to parent around temper-tantrums by now, but this kid is stretching my patience.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

40. . .

Thoughts on turning 

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Curse of the Missing Glove

Somehow I have a pile of gloves, yet not one pair. Either I have been gardening as Michael Jackson or there is a nefarious glove stealing gnome.