WN@tL this week: Tom Zinnen on “Biotech and Food: Dilemmas in Communication and Culture”

New grocery products, label requirements and gene-editing technologies will be just a few topics of focus at this week’s Wednesday Nite @ the Lab talk.

Tom Zinnen, outreach program manager with the UW Biotechnology Center and cofounder of Wednesday Nite @ the Lab, will present a lecture titled “Biotech and Food: Dilemmas in Communication and Culture” on Wednesday, Sept. 13 from 7 – 8:15 p.m. at the UW Biotechnology Center.

Zinnen will present a 30-year retrospective of agricultural gene-splicing research with a focus on milestones in Wisconsin. He’ll also offer some introspection on the distinctions between UW Extension work, science communication, and public relations.

Zinnen studied at UW–Platteville, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, and UW–Madison. Hence Zinnen’s fondness — even infatuation — for dashes. He did a postdoc at Agrigenetics, an ag-biotech company formerly located on Madison’s east side. Zinnen was on the faculty of the Plant Molecular Biology Center at Northern Illinois University from 1986 to 1991, then returned to UW–Madison to serve as the biotechnology-education specialist at the Biotechnology Center and with the Family Living program of the UW–Extension’s Cooperative Extension. In 2000–01, he was on leave to serve as a Congressional Science Fellow and worked on the majority staff of the House Committee on Agriculture. In 2008–10, he took another leave to serve as the speechwriter for the director of the National Science Foundation. In 2005, with Sarah Schutt — now the chief alumni officer and executive director of the Wisconsin Alumni Association — Zinnen cofounded Wednesday Nite @ the Lab, for which he is the designated pinch hitter.

WN@tL is free and open to the public. It can also be viewed via live webcam at Afterwards, the archived lecture will be available at