Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's easy to make friends when you give them $$$

Yesterday was a VERY BIG DEAL. About 40 people turned out to celebrate the University of California, Davis-Agilent collaborations. We had Deans and Presidents and 3 layers of managers there (and my boss wasn't even there) and about a dozen Agilent poeple who touch the project in some way. G decided to tag along as a tire-kicker, being an alumnus and all. The new Robert Mondavi Center for food and wine and brewing sciences is really beautiful. It has a platinum star energy rating, with beautiful sky-lights and windows and natural lighting. The dairy and food processing areas are still getting set up. We had speeches and introductions and tours and goodie bags and a buffet lunch. Paul had a new suit (I had never seen him in a tie, so it was a good thing to have a photographer to document same) and was on good behaviour, aside from promising the store to some of the faculty. In the yet-unused dairy processing room were six large Agilent cartons of equipment (the size of a king sized bed and about 3-4 x that high) waiting to be unpacked and installed. This wasn't even for my project, but a separate grant for an instrument lab to be run by two of the nicest women investigators.
For lunch, we moved to the California Animal Health and Food Safety facility, which is where my project is running. I'll be working for the next 2 years on a new method to rapidly identify bacterial contamination in food. "Rapid" in food safety parlance means faster than days or weeks to pin a name on the bad stuff causing a food poisoning epidemic. We will be using equipment that microbiologists have never touched to replace the petri dishes that are now used to culture up the bugs. Molecular methods are the "in" way to go.

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