3-D Interactive Discovery Niche

Set in discrete spots throughout the Town Center, the technology-enhanced discovery niches are intended to attract the attention of casual visitors and serve as a destination for planned events. Faculty members, students and private sector collaborators are encouraged to submit ideas and content for the niches to ensure that the themes reflect emerging science.

Worm exhibit

Wriggling supermodels have taken over the 3-D niche in the Town Center.

The roundworms (C. elegans) are the guests of honor this spring because of their special role in science. Their simplified, elegant biology makes these worms the perfect stand-ins for developmental, neurological and behavioral research.

Also, they’re just plain cool to watch as they fidget across a microscope slide, magnified beyond what the naked eye can see.

The new exhibit digs into the world of worms and the people who study them. Did you know six worm scientists have won Nobel Prizes? The honorees include the researchers behind RNA interference as well as the trio of biologists who established C. elegans as a model organism in the first place.

Posters around the exhibit focus on the proteins that keep worm cells glued together during development. Proteins like alpha-catenin are essential to growing worm embryos. Without it, muscle rips apart and growth is abnormal. This research into cell development and adhesion may help scientists understand a more human problem – cancer.

Studying worm embryos (each smaller than a grain of table salt) requires powerful tools: fluorescent microscopes make worms glow like flamboyant spirals while 4-D microscopes make movies out of developing worm guts. Electron microscopes (that use electrons instead of light) offer perhaps the most extraordinary views. Glimpsed through 500,000X magnification, the surface of a worm embryo resembles the Grand Canyon.

Incredible for a creature made up of only 959 cells; humans have 3 billion. 

The niche will highlight C. elegans research from several campus labs. The schedule is below.

Jeff Hardin lab March 24-31 worms.zoology.wisc.edu
Judith Kimble lab April 1-10 www.biochem.wisc.edu/faculty/kimble
Craig Atwood lab April 11-22 www.medicine.wisc.edu/people-search/people/staff/474/ATWOOD_CRAIG_S
Jon Audhya lab April 23-30 audhyalab.org

The Jeff Hardin, Judith Kimble, Craig Atwood and Jon Audhya labs contributed to this exhibit.

Apply to Reserve Space

The main floor offers distinct spaces to meet different needs: With 40,000 square feet available, the main floor of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery can accommodate more than 1,200 guests. Known as the Town Center, the space may be divided to welcome groups of various sizes. View the Application Form.