Thursday, August 22, 2019

Biosecurity guide for livestock exhibitors - UMASH

The Upper Midwest Agriculture Safety and Health Center produced a video on six tips for biosecurity for youth livestock exhibitors.

6 Tricks of Biosecurity - 3.04 minutes

Minnesota School indoor air quality training in person and webinar

School Indoor Air Quality Training - Minnesota Department of Health

Public schools must have health and safety programs that comply with health, safety, and environmental regulations and best practices, including indoor air quality (IAQ) management. One best practice is that public schools have an IAQ Coordinator. This training will discuss the state’s best practices for school IAQ management.

Continuing education credits are available for several licenses. There is no refresher training requirement, but school staff are encouraged to attend every few years. Course content is updated every year. Non-public schools, service providers and other stakeholders are also encouraged to attend.


  • Roseville: September 17, 2019 
  • Rochester: September 24, 2019 
  • Roseville: September 30, 2019 
  • St. Cloud: October 9, 2019 
  • Fergus Falls: October 10, 2019 
  • Webinar: October 15, 2019
For more information and to register please click on link below: 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Black Raspberries multiple molds

Mold growth on Black Raspberries after a week - N. Carlson
Growth of Cladosporium spp. at 400x
Presumptive identification as Cibiessia spp. 400x

identification as Alternaria spp. 400x

Identification of Mucor spp.  and Botrytis spp. spores -  400x
Identification of Fusarium spp. 400x

Aspergillus spp./Penicillium spp. - 400x

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Solar panels on parking lot and roof at U of Minnesota

Solar panels on the West Bank of the Twin Cities Campus at the U of Minnesota - N. Carlson
One of the criticisms of solar power is that it takes up arable land and makes it unusable for crops. See a previous post on solar panels in agriculture.  At this location on the west bank a former building site and a parking lot are converted into a site for generating solar powered electricity. The elevated solar panels on the left provide cover for vehicles enhancing the value of the parking lot without taking up significant amount of space. wire reports on this project U of Minnesota to install 2 MGWatts solar.  Additional solar panels (not pictured) are also installed on top of nearby buildings.

Urban Solar Energy research at the U of MN HHC - 2 min. 

U of M Morris sustainability and solar thermal panels - 10 min.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Blueberry Botrytis spp.

Moldy blueberries in a measuring cup

Fresh fruit easily becomes moldy in a refrigerator. Samples were taken from the surface of the blue berries.  A heavy growth of Botrytis spp. was noted through out the sample. The white particles in the measuring cup are whey protein.

Botrytis means grape diseases. It is the combination of the Greek botrys = grape and the Latin itis = disease. (ref: Wikipedia) By coincidence, the common asexual form of this organism shown below grows on grapes and the conidia (asexual spores) also look like microscopic grapes.

Photomicrograph of Botrytis spp. cluster stained with lacto fuchsin - 400x 

Second photomicrograph of Botrytis spp. stained with lacto fuchsin - 400x 

How Botritis spp. infects a plant - 2 min 

Monday, April 1, 2019

Mold Remediation Awareness Course May 23 2019

On May 23, 2019 The Midwest Consortium for Hazardous Waste Worker Training -  will be offering a one day Mold Remediation Awareness Course at the University of Minnesota - East Bank Campus. Instructors are Mike Buck, Neil Carlson, and Sean Gabor.

Mold remediation courses provide an overview of activities involved with mold remediation and are designed to train individuals who are or who anticipate being employed at a mold remediation work site.

Activities in this courses could include sampling techniques available to find hidden mold and the limitations of these techniques, how to identify the most common fungi related to water damage and health hazards, methods to prevent water events and mold growth in buildings, emergency response plans, protective equipment, and control containment or confinement.

Additional site-specific training for emergency response must be provided so individuals can carry out any role, which may be assigned during a response.

Cost: $225 - Continuing Education Units Provided 

Registration call 612-624-2345 or 612-626-2596  web site: 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Exploring the fungal breakdown of reheated lunches

Lunch dish left out for too long.

Forgetting to immediately clean a lunch dish provides an easy way to grow a variety of fungal organisms without using a culture plate. Both Rhizopus spp. and Aspergillus niger have dark colored spores. The Aspergillus niger conidia are uniformly round. The Rhizopus spp. sporangiospores have an irregular walnut shape.

Aspergilllus niger

Rhizopus spp. 

Penicillium spp. with Rhizopus spp. sporangiospores and Aspergillus niger conidia. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Speaking Science - Media Panel

Graphic recording by Amy Sparks of  A Visual Spark (1/17/2019)
Moderator Elisia Cohen (Hubbard School Director) asked Timothy Blotz (Fox 9 news anchor) and Michelle Cortez (Bloomberg News) to explain the keys to successful communication between scientists and journalists.

Preparation prior to the interview is key. This allows the scientist to make sure they are communicating accurate information. In some situations, it is acceptable to politely refuse to answer questions if the news media misrepresents their stated intentions and questions are about topics that are not fully researched.

Tips from the notes above: Test out your ideas to regular folks prior to talking with the reporter, and be prepared to share what is important to you. Know the controversy well and address it directly. Let the audience know why they should care. Promptly contact the news director for factually incorrect information so a correction can be made to the web post.

Practice with a podcast or talking with others to get comfortable in front of the camera. A good news reporter will do what they can to put their interview subject at ease. If you are super shy, you can refer the reporter to another scientist who is more comfortable in front of a camera.

Timothy Blotz interviews Amazing Race winner Dr. Natalie Strand - 4 min. 

Speaking Science - Communicating Science in a post truth era by Amanda Stanley

Graphic recording by Amy Sparks of  A Visual Spark (1/17/2019)
Amanda Stanley from Compass offered up suggestion to communicate effectively in a "post-truth" world.  Passing false information through the media has been going on since at least the 17th Century. False news often spreads much faster than real news so it is difficult for the truth to catch up.

Changing people's minds with facts does not work. People want to bury the opposition with facts, destroy them, and sometimes end up being a jerk. Asking people to change their beliefs often requires them to change who they are. This usually does not happen.

Extending curiosity to find out what people care about and where there is a common interest can be a productive starting point for discussion. Connect to people with shared values, build trust, and share the awe of scientific discovery.

During her talk audience members watched a brief video on the Speaking Science improv for scientists mini-workshops held throughout the year.  I was fortunate to attend this class and found it to be very helpful and a great learning experience. Working on improvisation for scientists improves interpersonal and communication skills. Alan Alda advocated this in his book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?

Christine O'Connel, The Alan Alda Center - Improv. in Science - 13 min. 

Alan Alda - Relating Through Improvisation - 5 min. 

Improvisation for the Communication of Science - Alan Alda - 14 min.