Following almost a year of staying undercover, the Twinkie has come back from “sabbatical leave” to rejoin the exploits of Biology department members. Some of you have been around long enough to know that the Twinkie first made his/her public appearance in the Spring 2008 newsletter and has travelled in at least 3 continents since that time. Subject to a diverse array of harrowing adventures, the Twinkie has escaped being eaten by a Black Rat Snake in the Mohonk Reserve in New York, has survived tropical downpours in Central America, and has even gazed upon Mount Kilimanjaro after avoiding being stolen from a traveling student’s luggage. Still, the original Twinkie persists (although it may actually consist of a larger variety of organisms, genomes, and compounds than it did in 2008), and recently took a break with an undisclosed professor to vacation in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
When we last left the Twinkie (Spring/Summer 2008 Newsletter), it was avoiding a soaking in a tropical shower on the Continental Divide in Costa Rica. Thank goodness for cellophane packaging! Since then, the Twinkie has encountered even more dangerous circumstances as it accompanies some of the most adventurous biologists in their search for truth, justice, and answers to the world’s most pressing biological and educational questions.
Research student Faith Whitehouse (‘10) and the Twinkie® share a peaceful moment overlooking the view at Mohonk Preserve, New York, where the Twinkie accompanied Faith in studying the impacts of Hemlock Wooly Adelgids on light environments and seedling recruitment in eastern deciduous forests (June, 2008).
While Faith diligently recorded survivorship of tree seedlings nearby, the Twinkie® had a brush with mortal danger in the form of a Black Rat Snake and sought safety in a not-yet defoliated Eastern Hemlock (June 2008).
Later in the fall, Twinkie® embarked on its most adventurous journey to date, and accompanied Biology Education student Jonathan Hertel (‘10) on his study abroad course in Tanzania. Although Jon and his course-mates were robbed of many of their belongings during the trip, the Twinkie® was serendipitously elsewhere at the time, and survived to see some of the most amazing scenery on the planet.
Somehow, somewhere…we’re not sure just what the mechanism was…a lone Twinkie® started appearing, and re-appearing, at the summer research social events. It is thought that the origin of the lone Twinkie® may go back as far as a biology faculty meeting sometime in the spring of ‘08, but nobody knows for sure. What we do know is that it re-appeared at the ODC social event in June and again, sat alone, unwanted. Some biology profs (who have requested to remain anonymous) decided that the Twinkie® should become a traveling metaphor for all the amazing, various things that we do in the biology department, the places we go, and what is right and good in the world.
Initial plans for the Twinkie’s trip to the nation’s capital (as an official member of the Phage Genomics instructional team) went awry when an un-named prof simply forgot to take the Twinkie®. But it was quickly rescued by the Costa Rican research team of Dr. Greg Murray and Nathan Poel, who packaged the twinkie® in a waterproof travel device, the TTC (“The Twinkie Cozy”) and accurately measured the Twinkie® weight pre- and post-trip (26 June – 16 July 2008). “El Twinkie®”, Dr. Murray, and Nathan have returned (almost) safely to Hope College. It is rumored that the Twinkie® will vie for a 3-minute time slot with Darth Tater at the annual “Meet the Faculty” seminar scheduled for August 29, 3 p.m. The only question now is: Where will the Twinkie® go next?????