Meet the scientists behind We Measure the World. Learn who they are, their past adventures, and what they ponder when they’re not building instruments that measure the universe.
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Meet the scientists behind We Measure the World. Learn who they are, their past adventures, and what they ponder when they’re not building instruments that measure the universe.
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BRAD NEWBOLD 0:03
Hello, everybody, and welcome to We Measure the World, a podcast produced by scientists, for scientists.
LEO RIVERA 0:10
But one of the great things about working here and working with Chambers, and this is one of the things that makes him really good at his job, is if you need to test something and see if it can be broken. You give it to Chambers.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 0:20
Oh, I have made every mistake with our gear that our customers have. Every single one.
HOLLY LANE 0:26
And one’s they haven’t yet made, probably.
LEO RIVERA 0:29
Exactly. Yeah, I remember when we were testing out the capacitance clips that we use now to validate our TEROS sensors. And I was so excited about it. I was like, Chambers, check this out. This is awesome. And I gave it to him. The first thing he does is he slides it on the sensor wrong and breaks it.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 0:47
I broke the prototype before we even figured out if it worked.
LEO RIVERA 0:51
BRAD NEWBOLD 0:53
That’s a small taste of what we have in store for you today. We Measure the World explores interesting environmental research trends, how scientists are solving research issues, and what tools are helping them better understand measurements across the entire soil plant atmosphere continuum, stay current on applied environmental research, measuring methods and more. Thanks for spending time with us. All right, let’s get started. Today is part two of a two part series, where we meet the people behind we measure the world, a group of scientists who are passionate about measuring the environment. their day job is to design new environmental sensors and improve existing ones for other scientists. Sensors they’ve developed are routinely used to gather data all along the soil plant atmosphere continuum. They even have a sensor sitting on Mars. Today, we’ll interview Leo Rivera, Chris Chambers and Holly lane. Let’s start with Chris Chambers. Chris is the agriculture and environmental application specialists at METER. He earned a bachelor’s in forestry from the University of Illinois in 1995, and spent the next six years as a vagabond. After traveling the world and having many fantastic experiences. He returned to his studies as a graduate student and pursued research in physiological ecology and biogeochemistry. He completed a master’s in forest resources before METER put his skills and experience to work to support our customers and help them get the data they need. All right, Chris, what is it like being a vagabond?
CHRIS CHAMBERS 2:18
Oh my gosh. So we’re going back aways for for that, um, you know, I got a BS in forestry from the University of Illinois. And the first thing I wanted to do is get out of Illinois and find some forests. That’s not entirely true. There’s some great forests in Illinois, but I used seasonal forestry as a vehicle to get out and see the world, right. So I would find a job for a season cruising timber or laying out timber sales assist assistant botanist, whatever, just running around in the woods. And it took me from, you know, the Sierra Nevada was up the coast range in Oregon and in Washington, St. Joe forest in Idaho, and all the way up to the Tongass and Alaska. So I would work in the woods all summer, and then the ski bum in Salt Lake City in the winter, I wound up in Haiti for much of one winner. And really, it was just seeking experiences, mostly. And it was it was great lifestyle for, for a young person trying to figure out life. And, you know, you live for the moments that were just, you know, amazing, like, coming over this region the serra Nevada is and there’s Mount Lassen, just dominating the sky, and a whole meadow full of buttercups. It just blows your mind sometimes, or, you know, seeing the Aurora Borealis from the lighthouse and Sitka Sound. Really, it’s, you know, there’s a price to be paid for it, but it’s really rewarding experiences.
BRAD NEWBOLD 4:06
So, you sought experiences sounds like you’ve found some experiences outside of those non academic experiences. Was there a most interesting project that you worked on before you came to METER and and you tell us a little bit about that, and what you learned from that.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 4:24
So of course, including academic experiences, my master’s degree was fantastic. But you know, part of my Vagabond days was a tour in the Peace Corps in Nepal. And that was hard. So hard, but it really, you know, I was involved in some local, just drinking water projects and agroforestry projects. And so that was challenging and really rewarding, you know, and then most of my experiences were outdoors, and I had a cautionary tale at one point and I realized that I could wouldn’t do that lifestyle forever. And then I might live past 40. So that’s when I decided that you know, go back to school and just in case you need to have a job where your legs that don’t use your legs all day long. So I went back and studied physiological ecology and my master’s project, there was really, really a great project to be involved into like a large forest scale, stable isotope tracer experiment. It was super fun.
LEO RIVERA 5:30
Chambers is also the only person I’ve known to have altitude sickness. Is that right?
CHRIS CHAMBERS 5:36
Yeah. Oh my gosh, that was, in theory, it was a great idea. But crossing this path from the Kathmandu Valley into into long Tang, it’s like a three day hike. It was, where’d, we get up, we got above 3900 meters. But that was crazy. It really is crazy, get to the top of the pass it looks like the moon and realize that if you don’t get moving, you’re gonna die. So when went down, we descended and got low enough to recover the next day.
BRAD NEWBOLD 6:12
Okay, now we’ll introduce Holly Lane. Holly comes to us with a background in agricultural biotechnology with a master’s in plant breeding, where she focused on phenomics work in maize. She has a broad range of experience with both fundamental and applied research in agriculture, and worked both of the public and private sectors on sustainability and science advocacy projects. She has also advocated for agricultural research funding in Washington, DC. And currently Holly is an application expert and inside sales consultant with METER environment. So Holly, same question, what’s the most interesting project that you’ve had the chance to work on? It could be academic or otherwise, before coming to METER?
HOLLY LANE 6:50
The most interesting project, I guess, is it biased to say my own master’s thesis work?
BRAD NEWBOLD 6:55
HOLLY LANE 6:58
So my project was on kind of this new concept in breeding called phenomics selection. And as far as I know, I think we’re the second people to publish on this topic. So to put it in context, it’s a similar idea to genomic selection. But instead of using more traditional genetic information, we’re actually using spectral information from near infrared spectroscopy. And that’s, you know, much cheaper to collect. And so we were kind of looking to see, can this spectral information tell us about how well these maize plants performed in the previous year. And we actually had really surprisingly good results, a technology like that which has been used historically to quantify chemical composition. So it has a long standing history and chemistry, or forage quality analysis for feed quality and livestock. And so we use it in the program to make predictions about protein starch oil content to predict these phenotypes. But now we’re looking at it in a way that’s sort of analogous to a genome, you can think of it as a phenom. So all of the spectral information kind of like a spectral signature, and seeing if we can mine more complex information about the genetics of these plants or the performance of these plants. And one of the things I think is really exciting, is that you don’t need genetic information to use this technology. And so crops that aren’t like corn, that haven’t had all this money and resources put towards genotyping could potentially use a technology like this. So those so called orphan crops, right. So I’ve been talking to one of my colleagues at Washington State, he’s working on quinoa, and they have all this near infrared information. And they’re kind of building a genetic database. But I think something like that might be a really good candidate for this because they don’t have the genetic resources available, that something like corn does. But this kind of technology could really benefit them. So it’s still very much proof of concept. But it was really interesting to work on a project that was so new, right? Because there’s so much opportunity for this technology to advance and to benefit breeding programs.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 9:26
How did you find plant breeding Holly? Was it just this is what I want to do? Or how’d you get on that path?
HOLLY LANE 9:35
That’s a really good question. So I didn’t grow up in a farming background at all. And in high school, we had a health teacher show us the documentary Food Inc. and so I decided to go to school to study organic agriculture, because I was like, those guys know what they’re doing. The food system is scary. I gotta get out there. I got to make a difference. And so my first semester I was in ag and food systems class. I just remember sitting with these students who did come from farm backgrounds, right? And their experience and their knowledge was so different than mine. They were sort of like, why don’t people trust us, these are our families, this is our livelihood. That was really powerful for me. But had I not gone to school for that I wouldn’t have had those types of interactions to build that trust back with my food system. I learned a lot that semester, I learned about GMO technology and how it was made. And I ended up going to the professor who gave us that lecture afterwards. And I kind of like shuffled up to the front. And I said, I’m an organic ag major. I was really anti GMO before I heard your talk. But you’ve really opened up my perspective. And I’d like to learn more. And I ended up working for him. For three and a half years I made GMOs, I changed my major to ag biotech. And kind of just throughout my undergraduate career, a lot of these mentors who had kind of come in and out of my life, were plant breeders. And I knew I was being encouraged to go to grad school, I knew I wanted to go to grad school. Having worked in a lab for three and a half years doing molecular research. I knew I was capable of doing research, but I was kind of looking to do something more applied. And so I thought, Well, hey, I really appreciate a lot of these people in my life and their plant breeders, maybe I better give that field ago. So I was really happy. I had a great master’s experience.
BRAD NEWBOLD 11:40
Okay, let’s transition to Leo Rivera. Leo is METER’s hydrology product market manager and earned his undergraduate degree in agricultural systems management at Texas A&M University, where he also got his master’s degree in soil science. There, he helped develop an infiltration system for measuring hydraulic conductivity used by the NRCS and Texas. Okay, so, Leo, what’s the most interesting project that you worked on before coming to METER? And what did you learn from that?
LEO RIVERA 12:07
I was really fascinated by Holly’s story, because I think people often lack an understanding of the food system and where their food comes from, and really what it entails. And they’re scared of it. And they shouldn’t be. And I think it’s a lot of it is just education, and bad information, really. And so I, you know, I hope in the future, we can keep diving into that, even though that’s not the purpose of this podcast, but I think it’s a fun topic to hit on. But for me, because I’m definitely not a plant person, I’m a soils person. I’ve always been fascinated by the physics of soil, and what happens in the soil. So when I started as an undergrad, I got to study soil mechanics, really, and how so the shrinked swell properties of soil. And that was a lot of fun. But then I got to transition that into my master’s program, where we were looking at the impact of land use, and land management practices on soil hydraulic properties, in particular. So I got to spend two years going out and just spending all day out in the field, essentially, just running water into the soil and measuring how fast it went in. And as boring as that may sound to some people, it was a lot of fun. There were long days, but they were fun. And a big part of that was developing a system to make those measurements. So we got to try to develop an automated system for measuring hydraulic conductivity. And so we had a pretty crude system, but it worked really well. And it allowed me to make over 300 measurements of hydraulic conductivity across several fields, which takes a long time. And on some days, we’d go through 1500 gallons of water in a day, measuring infiltration is absurd.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 13:44
It’s also inspiration for a later instrument to better measure infiltration, isn’t it?
LEO RIVERA 13:55
It is it is. It’s really what led to a lot of the work on the SATURO. And what was really cool about that project. If you look at the work that’s happening now in terms of soil health, what we know is that hydraulic conductivity is a tier one indicator of soil health properties. And the work I did at the time was a good indicator of that looking at native prairie versus a conventional tillage field versus a field that’s in improved pasture. And the impact that these practices has on the soil properties, both from looking at the hydraulic conductivity is one, but also looking at its stability and its and the amount of organic matter that’s stored in the soil. And you look at the work that’s happening now in the soil health side of things, that all ties to it. And so really seeing how that’s evolved has been really fun for me, and also now how we can contribute to that with some of the tools that we make. And some of the tools I’ve been able to help develop like the SATURO seeing a tool like that contribute to really important science is just I don’t know it makes my day I’ve it’s why I do what I do.
HOLLY LANE 14:53
I have a question, Leo.
LEO RIVERA 14:54
HOLLY LANE 14:55
This reminded me of an internship I did with a soil scientist and one of the measurements we took was the ring. And then I think we put kind of like saran wrap, and then we’d put water, and then you pull the saran wrap out and stuff, start the timer and we do like five per plot or something. That seems like a very crude way to take that kind of measurement. How does doing it like that differ to kind of how you were doing it?
LEO RIVERA 15:22
That’s a really good question. It is a crude way of doing it. But it works. There’s essentially just a quick falling head test. I think how that differs is just really the precision and the antecedent conditions of the soil have a big impact on actually how fast water is initially going to flow. And so if you’re not at steady state, you can severely underestimate or overestimate those properties. And so what we’ve tried to do is simplify that and remove any of that potential error, especially because a test like that can be really prone to human error. That’s why when I did my grad project, we needed an automated device, because we wanted to remove as much human error.
BRAD NEWBOLD 15:59
So after all of that, what made you decide to come to METER? And why has that been the best choice of your life? Why why do you like doing what you do now?
LEO RIVERA 16:10
No, it’s that’s great. I love instrumentation. And that was one of my favorite parts of my grad project was getting to develop new instrumentation. And I thought that would be fun to do down the road. But really, what pulled me in was when Doug and Colin came to A&M to give a presentation, and they talked about the Mars Project, which you’ll hear about in our next podcast. Seeing those guys work on something that went to Mars to measure soil properties on Mars was absolutely fascinating to me. And I was like, that’s where I want to be. Those guys are doing cool stuff on Mars.
BRAD NEWBOLD 16:45
What about you, Chambers?
CHRIS CHAMBERS 16:47
Well, when you quit your PhD at the height of recession, you really have to take some immediate action. Now, in all seriousness, though, I had taken environmental biophysics with Colin and Doug, it was one of the most fabulous courses I’ve ever taken. Yeah, other fabulous courses I’ve ever taken plant anatomy by Vince Franceschi. But anyway, I was really impressed with a group of people. And at first, I wasn’t sure if I could do customer service. What I know about customer service, you know, at the time, I was a scientist, and what you want me to get me to talk to people all day long, how’s that gonna work out. But all the training and the education, the projects that I did have in my teaching experience, when I was, you know, through my master’s degree, and through my time as a PhD candidate, where that was all really valuable, and I realized that I’m just helping other people make their project succeed. So yeah, I wasn’t sure how it’s going to work out at first, but a lot of good things just kind of fell into place.
BRAD NEWBOLD 18:03
And Holly, you’re the newest one of the bunch here. What drew you to METER? And and what do you like about what you do now?
HOLLY LANE 18:10
Yeah, so my first introduction to METER was as Decagon. That internship I mentioned earlier, we actually used Decagon soil moisture sensors. So that name was kind of always in my head going to school in Pullman to, you know, they’re pretty involved in the community. And then I went to Texas A&M, and actually, Leo’s previous advisor who just mentioned was on my committee, so she introduced us at the Tri society’s meeting in San Antonio, think I had sent my resume over, I was kind of interested in working for y’all. And then I got a call right after I had graduated, I didn’t know where I was gonna go, or what I was going to do. My advisor was keeping me on just to kind of finish up my second project, and get that second manuscript finalized. And I got an email from a recruiter who said, Hey, we have your application, we think you’d be good for this sales role. And kind of the same reaction that Chambers had where I was like sales. I don’t know how to sell things. I know how to do science. But I think it’s been actually a pretty good fit. Because in this role, I talk a lot of science to scientists, right? And so I get to interact with a lot of different scientists in here about a lot of different work that gets to happen with these with these sensors. And I, what I really enjoy is feeling like my, my knowledge is valuable. And I think I’ve kind of filled this niche a little bit where I’ve had to learn a lot of soil science in this role that I didn’t necessarily have going in and I think I can relate to a lot of our plant science customers in that way where I can kind of say, Hey, I know you’re not a soil scientist. I know that soil science is kind of secondary to what you’re doing, here are the key things that you should really pay attention to for your study. And here’s what I recommend that you do.
BRAD NEWBOLD 20:10
So what is the weirdest thing about your job? Or rather, what makes you laugh? In the work that you do?
CHRIS CHAMBERS 20:18
You know, the fun thing about supporting scientists, you know, we kind of get to live vicariously through other people’s science, because, you know, we’re passionate about that part of it, it’s important part of our lives, you know, and we’ve gone a different direction. And I mean, that’s a fun part talking about, you know, what people are doing. And sometimes we’re, they’re, they’re brainstorming and like, Hey, can the instrument do this? Or can it do that? And, you know, sometimes you’re like, No, no, that’s not gonna work. Don’t do that. And here’s why. And sometimes really cool things happen. You’re talking with growers who want to use it to grow better crops, and, and then, a week later, it could be you’re on the phone, it’s somebody from JPL, you know, Jet Propulsion Lab. And so it’s also weird and makes me laugh on the range of people that we talk to, who in the end have the same goal of trying to learn more about what’s happening in the environment of, you know, growing plants, and understanding what’s happening in the soil.
LEO RIVERA 21:19
I don’t know if it’s weird, but it’s challenging that, especially in product development, on that side, the highs and lows of product development, when you think you’re so close to having something ready. And then you hit the plane of productivity, and then all of a sudden, you’re in the valley of despair. But one of the great things about working here and working with Chambers. And this is one of the things that makes him really good at his job is if you need to test something and see if it can be broken, you give it to Chambers.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 21:47
Oh, I have made every mistake with our gear that our customers have every single one.
HOLLY LANE 21:53
And ones they haven’t yet made probably!
LEO RIVERA 21:56
Exactly! Yeah, I remember when we were testing out the capacitance clips that we use now to validate our TEROS sensors. And I was so excited about it. I was like chambers, check this out. This is awesome. And I gave it to him. First thing he does is he slides it on the sensor wrong and breaks it
CHRIS CHAMBERS 22:16
I broke the prototype before we even figured out if it worked.
LEO RIVERA 22:19
Yeah. But I think that makes me laugh too. And it’s what I don’t know. I think it’s one of the things that makes just makes it fun working with these guys.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 22:29
We have a great group here. You know, I mean, all kidding aside, there’s a lot of great minds here right now. And I, you know, just a fun team attitude.
BRAD NEWBOLD 22:41
Do you want to add anything else, Holly about the favorite part of your job?
HOLLY LANE 22:45
Aomething I’ve really enjoyed, as Leo has given me a lot of opportunity to help with some of the marketing aspect. And I’ve really enjoyed that. So I feel weirdly powerful when I get to log into the METER environment Twitter account and like things and retweet things and make tweets.
BRAD NEWBOLD 23:02
It’s the power of social media. That’s right.
HOLLY LANE 23:04
Yeah. And I think making sure good science is happening and empowering scientists and helping scientists troubleshoot their own research and making sure that they’re getting the best data possible. I think that’s always really exciting.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 23:19
Oh, yeah. And like how you probably get this one once a while too. And when you’re having a chat about before they purchased the equipment, and it’s like, we have exactly what you need to do this research. That’s always really fun, too.
HOLLY LANE 23:33
That’s the best. Yes.
BRAD NEWBOLD 23:36
How has being a scientist kind of changed your view on the world?
HOLLY LANE 23:41
I think just the ability to stay curious and to question things. But to question things in a way that you’re open to hearing that answer. Right. So if you’re presented with new information about something to be open and say, Oh, I have new information, now, I can change my opinion or think about something differently.
LEO RIVERA 24:02
I feel like I’ve, it’s taught me to be I don’t like to use the word skeptical. I feel like it’s more so taught me to try to better understand the process and be more critical. And at the same time, you know, when new data is presented, let’s look at it and see what does that really mean. But it’s also taught me to be open. I think we just have a more open mind to things.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 24:28
Data, just interpreting data, how to look at data, how to how to, especially if someone’s telling you a story or present a conclusion. It’s like okay, are they making the right assumptions about their data? are they presenting some bias that isn’t supported by the data? That’s really where science and statistics kind of allowed me to go grow quite a bit is, is just learning how to how to compile and look at data and and ask the right questions about the data.
LEO RIVERA 25:09
To add to that, as a scientist, I’ve had to learn, you know, sometimes the data is going to tell you what you don’t want to hear, you know, sometimes you go into a project with a hypothesis and when your hypothesis gets disproven, or if you’re not seeing what you really wanted to see out of it, you got to accept it, don’t force the data to tell you something that it’s not. And I think, when I want something to be successful, or I have an idea that I’m so this is what I believe it’s this way, and when it’s when you’re wrong, learning to accept that I think it’s really important.
HOLLY LANE 25:43
Science teaches you how have perseverance in that way, right? Because things go wrong more often than they go right a lot of the times in research.
BRAD NEWBOLD 25:53
Was there anything in your experience, in your experiences as children? Or growing up that helps really pique your interest in science? Or do you have any recommendations for parents or science teachers? I’m not asking you to give parenting advice.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 26:09
I’d be the worst at that. I think exposure is one of the best things you could do, and especially about for environmental science or natural science, because it’s a long story about why I chose to do a forestry degree in Illinois High School. But you know, it could be shortened by, you know, I grew up in a place where, you know, I spent a lot of time in a Christmas tree farm. I worked at one for a while, and it was, you know, next to the Illinois River, and it really got me outside all day. And the person who owned it opened some possibilities for me. And many years later, I just had something to build on after that. So I think it’s I think exposure, and new experiences that get people to think about the environment that they’re in.
HOLLY LANE 27:01
I think just even from a young age, I was always very curious, my mom would say that I would ask how come to everything. And I think that that was encouraged. And you know, I would get answers to things. And I would keep asking questions, and I would keep getting answers. And so I think, even throughout high school, and undergrad, just always asking those questions, but having mentors who were willing to answer my questions, and to foster that curiosity, and to let me chase down those answers on my own, I think kind of groomed me to be a really good scientist.
LEO RIVERA 27:36
You know, I think I took something away from my mom. When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by how things worked. And so that meant I took a lot of things apart, and didn’t always put them back together properly. But, you know, my mom never got mad, she always just, it’s a natural process, kids are curious. And when you try to stop that, you’re gonna stifle that. And sometimes it can be really frustrating when those things happen, or when your kids are taking apart your radio or whatever. But understanding the process they’re trying to learn and instilling that and then if you’re really worried about it, find activities. I love taking our son to the different science centers around and the activity centers because they’re just, it’s a great way for them to learn about processes and and explore that curiosity in a way that might not be so damaging to your personal property.
BRAD NEWBOLD 28:34
What do you guys think, is the role of science in policymaking? But I think maybe even at a more general level, because there’s there are a lot of ways where, where science affects people’s lives. I know, Holly, you’ve had some experience in, in working in DC with policy making. Do you have some some insight into that?
HOLLY LANE 28:58
Yeah, so I’ve done a little bit of lobbying for ag research funding. I’ve gone two years now to lobby for funding for AFRI, which is the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative under the USDA. And I think that’s always an interesting case study, to see who’s sort of a good science communicator and who’s not, because policymakers care about your science in a very different way than other scientists care about your science. So to be able to really put yourself in the shoes of the policymaker and say, Okay, what are their values? What do they find important? What’s going to be a key takeaway for them about what I do that’s going to matter? And make them feel like wow, this is really valuable, is a learned skill. And so it it’s a very different type of communication, of science communication, I will say so it’s not here’s the data. Here’s what we looked at. Here’s, you know, the methodology we did. It’s Hey, if we can figure this out, these are the impacts that we’re gonna have on society or, you know, this, this funding brings in this many dollars to the universities in your state, right? It brings in this many jobs to your state, it brings in this much return to the economy in your state. So they’re very numbers based in impact based on a broader perspective, they’re less likely to be entranced by kind of the details of your science.
LEO RIVERA 30:30
I think colleagues answers is really good, just from the policies perspective, and how you communicate it, and how to get other people interested in it. Because science becomes a really big problem when we make try to make people’s lives too hard. And I think it’s important that we find a way to have a balance there. But also explaining why it’s important from a long term perspective, like one of the things that’s really important to me I see is, is a hit on soil health, again, it’s something that I see as being a long term challenge. And there are many things coming out now, like regenerative agriculture, and those things that are going to be challenging to get people to see why it’s important. And our job as scientists is going to be really to try to show them, not only the data of why, but try to try to get them to think about the long term impact is going to have on them and their family and the ability to keep producing food. You know, from my perspective, it’s important because it’s going to preserve our soil, it’s going to stop polluting the environment, with sediments being runoff into our water bodies and those types of things. But it’s challenging, I think we always are going to have a challenge with this.
BRAD NEWBOLD 31:38
So how do scientists better communicate their research their results, the importance of the scientific method? To the layperson, have you guys seen any real successes or or ways that individual scientists or groups of scientists have communicated well with the general public or with the layperson?
HOLLY LANE 32:01
It’s something I’m really passionate about, I think that when you can connect with people through what they value, first and foremost, that that’s going to open them up a little bit more to hear what you have to say. And I think the more you can kind of show where you align with people’s values and kind of communicate with them more on an emotional and sensitive way, rather than sort of a fact based way. Because that’s not always the compelling route to go. There’s not like a exact formula for the right way to communicate with someone. I think it’s very situation specific. But just, for example, with the GMO debate, right, I think all the time about how great GMOs were for farmers specifically. So Roundup Ready, BT. But that’s not compelling to people, because they don’t understand the challenges that farmers have. And so they look at that, and they say, Okay, what, what problem does that solve for me, I feel like I’m taking on risk with no reward. But if you change the narrative, and you say, well, we use GMOs to make insulin for people so that there’s no risk of, of allergies, and we don’t have to harvest insulin from animals. We use GMOs to make the flavoring and plant based meats. That’s something that resonates with a lot of people, I think, you kind of have to spin the narrative and not in a way that’s disingenuous, but in a way that’s like, hey, this solves your issues to it’s not high risk, no reward, it’s low risk, high reward for all of us.
LEO RIVERA 33:44
And I also think that the way we take in information now has changed quite a bit just with technology, and trying to use the types of tools that we have now to present that information in a more digestible fashion is, is really important to get it down to a level that somebody can understand. But I definitely think you know what Holly said, and you really need to tie it to something that they’re going to resonate with. If not, you’re just going to lose them.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 34:12
Well spoken guys.
BRAD NEWBOLD 34:15
It is tough, though. And I do like the word translate. Because a lot of times, it is as if scientists are speaking a different language, even between fields, even within fields, you’re using all sorts of jargon, where you can really be talking past people and you have to find that way to translate what you know, and what you’ve been working on into that language. And Holly, I like what you said about about trying to find people’s values and really trying to find those commonalities that you can communicate across. That’s my two cents and I will move on. If you could choose one question about the physical world to know the answer to what would that be? What As the biggest knowledge gap that we have right now, in our understanding of the physical world, what’s the most promising research on the physical environment being done right now? Okay, so these are broad questions, you can talk about your, your specific interests, or you can talk about science in general, does anybody want to take a shot at at any of those,
LEO RIVERA 35:19
I think I’m gonna talk about soil health, again, because it’s a topic that I actually really enjoy. But I see the work that’s being done there to connect with growers and policymakers, why soil health is important. And the things that are coming out of that now and what we’re learning about how we can better manage our soils in our land, to both be productive, but at the same time protect our soils for generations down the road. And also from a climate change impact. This is huge. I mean, there are many estimations on the act that regenerative agriculture can have on carbon sequestration. And so I think soil health practices in regenerative agriculture have the potential to be a big piece of the solution to not just climate change, but also just helping preserve our soils and our ability to produce food down the road.
CHRIS CHAMBERS 36:20
I want to know that human carrying capacity of Earth can be I mean, that’s a super hard one to to get out because of technical, technological advances and, you know, things like GMOs that make us able to grow more food on smaller areas. But you know, that’s, at some point, there’s a theoretical carrying capacity and where is that? What? It’s not, it’s not ever, ever growing.
HOLLY LANE 36:51
I think to the exciting thing about that kind of work is it’s increasingly interdisciplinary. Right? So that’s gonna require a plant scientist, soil scientists, data scientists. I think more than ever, scientists from different fields are working together. And I think that’s a really exciting place to be.
BRAD NEWBOLD 37:13
Okay, our time is up for today. And just a reminder, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us at metergroup.com you can also reach us via Twitter through our handle @meter_env. Our environmental research experts will be in touch with you to answer any questions or we can put you in contact with today’s guest speakers. You can view a full copy of the script in the podcast description. That’s it for today. Stay safe, and we’ll see you next time on We Measure the World