Photo: National Park Service/Jim Peaco

Thanks to SARS-Cov2, the virus behind COVID-19, we’ve been hearing a lot about these three letters:


Short for polymerase chain reaction, this laboratory technique can amplify the tiniest sample of DNA or RNA, opening the door to relatively quick identification of an organism. For COVID-19, it’s been telling people if they’re positive (or negative) within a day.

But where did PCR come from?

Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis is generally credited with inventing the polymerase chain reaction, but his discovery owes a lot to a microbiologist who loved to travel, some refuted assumptions of what can live in hot springs…

“The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.”

— Charles Kuralt, late CBS News correspondent known for his in-depth reporting of society’s “back roads.”

Headlines are written to get attention. But sometimes they get the wrong attention for the wrong reasons, triggering the wrong reactions. Such is the case for this headline on a recent study on Monarch butterfly population declines, written by Cornell University’s Alliance for Science:

“Herbicide blamed for monarch butterfly population decline”

The article’s author, Denmark-based journalist Justin Cremer, leads with an inflammatory paragraph:

“A new study suggests that extensive agricultural use of glyphosate herbicide is to blame for the decades-long decline in North America’s…

Porterfield MarComm

Life Science Marketing/Communications/Writer/Editor

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