Office Artifacts: Scott Poethig

Discover the stories behind the Professor of Biology’s office items—in his own words.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Photos by Brooke Sietinsons



I teach a course on "The Biology of Food," and these are some of the breeds (Holstein, Jersey, Angus, Herford) I talk about. The cow with the long horns is an Ankole from east Africa. It is standing under an Acacia tree, which where Ankole like to stand, and also happens to be one of species we study in our research.


For my undergraduate senior research project, I characterized the effect of viruses on the anatomy of corn leaves. This is a montage of a cross-section of leaf infected with Maize Chlorotic Dwarf Virus. I created it from about 20 prints taken at high magnification, which I overlapped, excised, mounted on white poster board and then on black poster board, just for fun.


Students have hard time understanding chromosome behavior during cell division so, while teaching Biology 101 for the first time, I created sockosomes with detachable ends (so I can illustrate crossing over) to try to de-mystify this process. The tape represents a gene that controls seed color. Sockosomes work just as well in my graduate course in Genetic Analysis as in Biology 101.


Some artifacts from my previous life as a corn geneticist. The mug was a gift from a friend in 1981; where ever I leave it, it always finds its way back home. One of the advantages of working on corn is that people really like making corn-themed objects. My family has far fewer options for Christmas presents now that I work on Arabidopsis, a weed.


For my Ph.D. thesis, I reconstructed the cell lineage of a tobacco leaf from genetically marked sectors that I produced by X-raying leaves at different stages of their development. I produced these models of a leaf primordium (the black line is an x-ray induced sector) and a leaf blade for my thesis defense. They are a little beat up after 40 years, but then so am I.