Pottering Around Vermont

Pottering Around Vermont

I spent the past week amidst the bucolic charms of Vermont debating the merits of mountains, molecules and membrane transport proteins (scientific program here: http://goo.gl/S6zHpC). The keynote talk was given by Ed Boyden (MIT; http://goo.gl/Lrgz9m) on the topic of optogenetics: light activated ion channels are cloned from corals, bacteria and fungi, delivered into neurons in a living animal, to precisely control and study behavior. We watched how activation of dopamine neurons by a blue light led pleasure seeking mice to return to the light spot again and again! 

Each summer, for the past 80 years, scientists having been making the pilgrimage to the Gordon Research Conferences that cover hundreds of topics in physics, chemistry and biology. Discussions are intense, “off the record” and feature unpublished work. Isolated from the metropolitan hubbub, sites are typically in rural New England, Tuscany or the Swiss Alps (see my pix from Les Diablerets here: http://goo.gl/8qKpil). Afternoons are free, and we ventured into a charming old town where we explored a long-forgotten graveyard and discovered hand thrown pottery with colorful, crystalline glazes. They inspired me to make a pesto pasta with summer vegetables as soon as I returned home! I hope you enjoy these pictures in place of my usual #ScienceSunday  post.   

York Hill Pottery: http://yorkhillpottery.com/index.php?page=home

Flambeaux Art Pottery: http://www.campbellpottery.com/

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80 Responses to Pottering Around Vermont

  1. Jesse H says:


    Awesome and the pesto pasta, Priceless !!!

  2. Chad Haney says:


    The imaging version of Gordon conferences is Imaging2020. Looks like you had a great time, Rajini Rao.

  3. Rajini Rao says:


    Chad Haney I’m sure it is as excellent as all the others. I did have a great time, thanks. I’m also chairing the next one in 2016, so lots of fund raising fun ahead (gulp!). 

  4. Kevin Clift says:


    What a great job Ed Boyden has; Media Arts and Sciences!  Good luck with the fund raising.


  5. Really nice Rajini … 🙂


  6. Really, nice place for working and thinking.

  7. Tom Nathe says:


    Vermont. Come for the charm, stay for the biotech.

  8. Rajini Rao says:


    Smart of them to invest in biotech, Tom Nathe . Otherwise, it’s all tourism and farming. 

  9. Rajini Rao says:


    Kevin Clift , Boyden is a wunderkind. His mentor is Karl Diesseroth, worth checking out (http://web.stanford.edu/group/dlab/). I wouldn’t be surprised if the field of optogenetics is heading for a Nobel. 

  10. Kevin Clift says:


    Fascinating, I’ve been following Karl Diesseroth and his optogenetics developments in part thanks to Mark Bruce.

  11. Kevin Clift says:


    I made the same Nobel observation here: http://goo.gl/2ojzUL

  12. Adit Morey says:


    Wow! The photos are very beautiful and nice. The pottery is very beautiful as well.

  13. Rajini Rao says:


    The Clarity technique was a technical breakthrough, I agree Kevin Clift ! 

  14. Jim Philips says:


    I know that spot!! I went to school in Bennington. Vermont will always have a big spot in my heart.

  15. Rajini Rao says:


    Jim Philips it’s a ski resort! Vermont must be lovely in winter. We took the chair lifts up the mountain and walked our way down greatly accelerated by gravity. 


  16. Rajini Rao: which ski resort? I’ve been through that area, but cannot remember which ski resorts are there?

  17. mary Zeman says:


    Beautiful!


    I miss going to conferences with such good sessions, and exploring!

  18. Rajini Rao says:


    Doug Essinger-Hileman this is Mount Snow, in West Dover, VT. I believe it is the largest in the area? It makes sense that they rent the cabins out for conferences in the summer. Have you been there?

  19. Rajini Rao says:


    mary Zeman , it’s a special time, right? I’m both exhausted and motivated when I get back ..all those late nights 😉

  20. mary Zeman says:


    Rajini Rao


     exactly! so motivating, and inspiring!


  21. I can understand the “intensity of the discussions”, given topics like this: “On the Origin of Promiscuity in the PTR Family of Proton Coupled Peptide Transporters” 

  22. Rajini Rao says:


    Haha, John Condliffe . That was from Simon Newstead of Oxford. The promiscuity comes from the ability of various small peptide fragments (from digesting proteins in our intestine) to be taken up by the cells. We can exploit this promiscuity by tagging drugs to these small peptides and tricking the transporters so they are absorbed into the body. A number of new anti-HIV drugs are being targeted for absorption this way. 

  23. Mary T says:


    Such a beautiful, tranquil setting Rajini Rao ~ I’m glad you had a great time!  The pesto look delicious, especially served in your lovely new pottery  :-).

  24. Rajini Rao says:


    Thanks, Mara Rose . You know how it is good to bring back mementos of our travels, especially ones we can use. Hope you have happy travels too 🙂


  25. Rajini Rao, yes, I have been to Mt. Snow. In the summer, but never to ski.

  26. Mary T says:


    Thanks Rajini Rao, I’m pretty excited!  I try to bring something back.  Sometimes, It’s a stone, or a seashell, or a piece of driftwood– a talisman from my journey.


  27. The 1st pic is the most beautiful one.

  28. Marvin David says:


    LOve it Raijini !!!

  29. Ryan Aslett says:


    Fun that your memento’s will hold memories for you, and also carry a time capsule of the state of the earth’s magnetic field of when they were cooled.  

  30. Kawthar A says:


    I really thank you for the pics..enjoyed’em 🙂


  31. Wishing to be overthere ::great time u had

  32. Chad Haney says:


    Rajini Rao I noticed your colleague at JHU, Jeff Bulte, is attending Imaging2020 this year.


    http://www.imagingin2020.com/agenda-2014-tentative-program/


    The theme is the immune system, so I won’t attend this year.

  33. Rajini Rao says:


    Good morning, Chad Haney . I can see that a cancer focus would be better for your research interests. It’s great that they have a different focus each year..allows for depth in discussions.


    BTW, that’s not a GRC, though. Here is one on image science, possibly of interest? : http://www.grc.org/programs.aspx?year=2014&program=imagesci
    Here’s another just on MRI: http://www.grc.org/programs.aspx?year=2014&program=invivo


    The list of conferences is here: https://www.grc.org/meetings.aspx


    I really can’t recommend a Gordon Conference enough..they are special. 

  34. Chad Haney says:


    Good morning Rajini Rao. Oh, I know it’s not a GRC, but it’s modeled after them. I seem to miss the GRC on MRI everytime.

  35. Chad Haney says:


    Sorry, Rajini Rao I just noticed my comment was misleading. Yes, indeed it is not part of the Gordon conference series.

  36. Rajini Rao says:


    Chad Haney I wasn’t misled at all – at least by that specific comment…can’t give you blanket pass on your other incorrigible shenanigans 😉


  37. That pesto is a showstopper! 

  38. Tau-Mu Yi says:


    GRCs are excellent because of their small size and relative isolation.

  39. Rajini Rao says:


    Tau-Mu Yi exactly, and the quality is superb. 

  40. Bill Collins says:


    Great time to go to Vermont. 🙂

  41. milbia calle says:


    Yes very much beautiful

  42. khalid Khan says:


    Flower photos beatiful


  43. cool and natural image

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