Millions of high school and college biology students could soon get a look at geneticist John Doebley’s research related to the domestication of corn. A film crew from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute was on campus last week to gather footage in Doebley’s lab, and they’ll be back in September to shoot in his field plots. The film will be shown in high school AP biology classes and college intro biology classes.
“We think that the domestication of corn is a terrific story, combining genetics with anthropology and archeology, all the better when it concerns the roots of a modern commodity that’s virtually taken over the world,” says Dennis Liu, an educator with HHMI’s Educational Media Group.
Liu’s group produces short science films, along with supplements designed to facilitate using them for formal science education and to extend the learning beyond what can be covered in the film itself.
“We pride outselves…on presenting research with scientific fidelity but also in a way that is engaging for students,” Liu says. He estimates the audience for the HHMI films to be well over 5 million students.
Hosting a film crew wasn’t that big a deal, says Doebley. “This is my 5th science film so same-old story. Previously, I had crews from Germany and Japan in my Minnesota Lab, and crews from Portugal and NSF in my UW lab.”