Category Archives: partnerships

Karl Feld’s Radio Interview

Third-year CRDMer, Karl Feld was invited to do a radio interview by The Measure of Everyday Life on conducting opinion research in challenging situations around the world. It was titled: “Challenging Environments and Global Opinion Research.

You can find Karl’s professional profile at:  

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Week 1 with IGERT in Lima, Peru – The Role of Rhetoric in Transgenetics

Editor’s note: Over the next few weeks we’ll be following incoming CRDM student Molly Storment’s experiences in Peru. Please also see her original post here:

Hola a todos! I have been in Peru since July 14 with NC State’s Genetic Engineering and Society program, to study pest issues in developing nations. Today we arrived in Iquitos, Peru, officially ending week 1 in Lima.

This was a busy, full week of conferences, farm tours, and museum visits. Conferences were spread over Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at three universities in Lima: San Marcos, Catolíca, and La Molina. The schedule included a diverse mix of presenters representing different universities, different areas of transgenic research (including Peru, Brazil, Panama, and the Key West), and the Peruvian government. These conferences have provided a unique opportunity for not just our group of NC State students, but for all these interested groups. We were able to spend some one-on-one time with Amy Morrison, who is working with the Aedes mosquito in Iquitos, Peru; Nestor Sosa, who is researching dengue and working with Oxitec in Panama; Margareth Capurro, who is researching transgenic mosquitoes in Brazil; and Mike Doyle, who is also researching transgenic mosquitoes in Key West. These conferences provided an opportunity for these scientists, working in the same feild, to meet one another and discuss their own technical, social, and regulatory difficulties in each of their areas. Hosting this meet-up in Peru has been significant for a number of reasons, the most significant being the fact that Peru passed a 10 year moratorium on transgenic crops just this past December. These researchers, while working in different areas, have had several overlapping concerns, the biggest being public perception and opinion of their work, governmental regulation, and ethical issues.

A common thread I have noticed in many of these discussions is the difficulty in navigating boundaries: institutional boundaries, governmental boundaries, economic boundaries, and personal boundaries. We were able to see first hand the differences in economic interests even just within the Cañete valley in Peru, when we visited a corporately owned farm (which produces artichokes for Kirkland), a privately owned farm, and a university research farm. Some researchers presenting at the conferences stressed that no one product would be suitable for all areas. These same researchers (Peruvians themselves) also exhibited much pride in Peru’s biodiversity and diverse lanscape. This sense of nationalism extended, from my experience so far, from the scientists who were looking into tools to help preserve this biodiversity, to the citizens who wanted to protect their environment from these transgenic products. What is most interesting to me is discovering how skeptics and proponents (and those who are unsure or have no opinion) share this great sense of pride in their agriculture and environment, but come to seemingly opposing conclusions on how to make “progress.” This, I think, is the role of rhetoric in transgenics.


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Last month, members of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS) at NC State met up at with employees from the Publications Division of SAS Institute in Cary for a half-day symposium to explore research opportunities of mutual interest. The gathering was a rekindling of sorts as the SAS-CHASS relationship that, while dormant of late, was once much more active (our own Dr. Carolyn Miller is the SAS Institute Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Technical Communication). Recent efforts to renew the partnership come from Dean Jeff Braden and SAS VP for Publications Kathy Council, who recognized a mutually beneficial opportunity to align the research ambitions of CHASS PhD students with the research challenges of SAS.

I went along to represent the CRDM program and to talk about my work in corporate social media analysis, which, along with topics like globalization and usability, is one of many topics SAS is interested in exploring. (In fact, the SAS Director of Media Intelligence Solutions Mark Chaves was our most recently featured speaker for the CRDM Colloquium, and he shared some fascinating insights on social media research challenges in regards to their new analytics tool.) I was joined by PhD colleagues in the Psychology and Sociology departments and by multiple faculty across CHASS.

Sure, my 7 minutes of public speaking was probably the most important discussion of corporate social media ever to take place relevant to some, but I was honestly much more interested in listening to SAS personnel talk about their research problems and how they might intersect with our methodologies and research specialties in CHASS. For example, our primary audience was the Publications division of SAS but we were joined by members of R & D as well, who later raised a laundry list of research project needs they had in the queue. Listening to their project descriptions, I realized that a manuscript I was working on with Dr. Jason Swarts lined up neatly with their research questions. From this initial curiosity came a conversation, an exchanging of improbably handsome business cards, and an email thread that produced a brownbag research forum on assessing instructional video content for technical communication. Dr. Swarts and I hosted around a dozen members of SAS who joined CHASS scholars in the audience on NC State’s campus as we presented our ongoing research. A lively conversation ensued. Lively, I say. Lively!

Screenshot taken of ELAN software program used in video coding project

Sample screenshot of our tutorial coding project (program pictured: ELAN)

Honestly, I was really impressed with the level of overlapping interest in a topic I thought for sure would be entirely esoteric to everyone outside of our collaborative writing process. The Q&A got us thinking about issues we clearly should have addressed during the writing process; at the same time, we took comfort in the reassurance that some of the most critical decisions we made about what not to include in the results or analysis were applicable beyond they typically insulated academic audience. The best part? We were just the first of many future collaborative brownbags, and I’ll be really interested to see where the fruits of a renewed town-gown relationship will take our program.

All told, things are looking up for the future of SAS partnerships. With a bit of luck and a lot of inventio, you should look for the “town-gown” tag to reappear on this blog in the future as we move the CRDM program forward into more SAS-CHASS collaborations, with or without the exchanging of handsomely designed business cards. Yes. Handsome I say!

~Matt Morain, Class of 2008

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