Montana State University

MSU Extended University hosts forum and synthetic biology outreach events

September 1, 2016 -- MSU News Service

MSU’s Extended University is partnering with the Belgrade Community Library to offer science outreach events on synthetic biology and genetics as part of an educational series called Building with Biology. The first event, called "Should We Engineer the Mosquito?", will be held Sept. 8.

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN –Montana State University’s Extended University will host a public forum called “Should We Engineer the Mosquito?”, in partnership with the Belgrade Community Library, as one of two events in September on synthetic biology and genetics. The events are part of MSU’s participation in a national outreach program called Building with Biology, which aims to help the public learn more about synthetic biology.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, the library will offer a public forum called “Should we Engineer the Mosquito?” Bob Peterson, an MSU entomologist, will facilitate a conversation about the implications of bioengineering mosquitoes to help fight infectious disease like malaria, dengue and Zika. The forum will begin at 6 p.m.

Peterson has been an entomologist with MSU’s Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences since 2002. His research covers many topics including plant-insect interactions and human and ecological risk assessments. He teaches several courses at MSU, including environmental risk assessment and insect ecology, and is the creator and photographer for the “Ins­ects of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem” website. The event is designed for participants aged 16 and up. Dessert and beverages will be provided.

Registration is required for this event. Call the library at (406) 388-4346 or stop by the library at 106 N. Broadway to sign up.

On Thursday, Sept. 8, MSU scientists will visit the library for informal conversations about synthetic biology. The scientists will also help attendees extract DNA from wheat germ, build a model cell with standardized genetic parts, learn about the technology used to deliver beneficial, targeted genetic information to sites throughout the body and other hands-on activities.

The event runs from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and is targeted at adults and high school students. It is free and open to the public. No registration is necessary.

Both events are designed to introduce guests to synthetic biology and promote two-way conversations between the scientists and visitors about how synthetic biology is interconnected with society.

MSU Extended University was selected as one of 150 organizations nationwide to host Building with Biology events as special opportunities for scientists and the public to interact directly and to learn from each other. The activities and conversations encourage community members to share ideas and opinions about how they want to see these new technologies developed and adopted. Scientists have the chance to share their own ideas and to consider ways public opinion might affect their research.

The Building with Biology project is funded by the National Science Foundation and led by the Museum of Science, Boston.

Extended University is an academic outreach department of MSU that offers continuing education, lifelong learning and outreach programs for the public.

Contact: Suzi Taylor, MSU Extended University, (406) 994-7957 or taylor@montana.edu