A current research update and remembering 1970's student-originated undergrad research at Evergreen
Finishing two research projects on rhizobia (interacting with legumes and each other), ending this summer, has been a higher priority than blogging lately. My pre-proposal to NSF for research on neglected phases of the rhizobial life-cycle (root nodule senescence, survival for months or years in soil, and rhizosphere interactions prior to infecting a new host) didn't make the first cut, so I may have to tap into my retirement savings if I want to continue basic research on rhizobia. I'm interesting in some applied problems also, but don't know if I can get funded for that.
I've also been helping plan some long-term research -- long enough that evolution could be an issue -- at our agricultural field stations around the state. And I want to spend more time with our research on the experimental evolution of multicellularity.
My book on Darwinian Agriculture is coming out in July, so I will start discussing additions, corrections, criticisms, and updates. Should I start a new blog, or do it here?
I recently enjoyed the 40th-anniversary reunion of the Evergreen State College, where I earned my undergrad degree in 1975 as "Bob Denison" and did research on how acid rain and other factors might affect nitrogen-fixing lichens in the tops of old-growth trees (see photo below), funded by NSF's long-defunct Student-Originated Studies program. Cindy Swanberg, who worked on that project, was at the reunion, as was Peter Dratch, who co-directed another student-originated project with Cindy, on the prospects for reintroducing wolves to the Olympic Peninsula. Cindy and I and Peter reminisce about our undergrad research projects on a videos Evergreen posted on You-Tube.
I will discuss "Measuring effects of symbiosis on fitness of legumes and rhizobia" at the upcoming Evolution meetings in Ottawa. This is trickier than many people in the field seem to realize. At the same meeting, Will Ratcliff and Mike Travisano will have exciting presentations on our evolution-of-multicellularity work.
First, though, I'm off to Hawaii, hoping to observe the transit of Venus. These are much rarer than solar eclipses. And yes, I'm so vain I probably do think this blog is about me.