New Wisconsin Iron Mine Sure to Damage Environment

hey Scott, *steps on high horse* lemme share some science with you about this proposed iron ore mine. Yes, I get it that steel is one of the pillars of an industrialized economy (next to oil), but what are the long term prospects of this deal? Will this leak iron oxides into northern Wisconsin’s water table? Most assuredly. Problem? When these react with oxygen to form ferric oxides, this creates a yellow sludge at the bottom of streams and lakes, preventing plants, algae and some insects from growing. This is called “yellow boy” (read this article).


Know what happens when you knock out the producers of an ecosystem? Everything on top is strangled. Fish and birds don’t have anything to eat. Starting to see the picture here? Iron oxides can even cause respiratory damage, especially for those with asthma or allergies.

Ok, let’s be honest, economics is more of your thing than science, so let’s talk economics. Many such iron deposits have already been mined. It is easy to determine we do have iron in this part of the state. Seems like a valuable thing for us to take advantage of, right? Let’s focus on the potential profits and job prospects.

Production Costs: Iron ore is a low margin product, and it’s prices are expected to drop in the future. Yes, China is a major consumer of iron ore, but how will this change as their economy is slowing? Answer: unfavorable outlook on long-term profit.

Job prospects: How long will these 700 jobs last? As long as the mine is operating. How can these possibly be long-term jobs? The first phase was estimated at 35 years, but even if the total life is 100 years, these jobs WILL end. How is this mine enabling a better future for Wisconsin and it’s citizens? The Earth has limited natural resources, and the huge $1.5B investment will be worthless once the ore is mined. What would be a better use of that money? Investing in schools, teachers, and better educating the children who will be shaping our future. We need to be looking at emerging markets, new technologies, and better understanding the world through science so we can preserve our precious planet for countless generations to come. Here’s some food for thought about our potential future economy.

The good news, Scott, is that this iron isn’t going anywhere. Let’s invest in better ways to extract our natural resources without harming the environment. We need a sustainable long-term economic plan for Wisconsin, and passing this bill is not doing that. Am I an expert in waste water runoff, ecology, or economics? No, but in less than one hour I gathered all this research and came to my conclusions. Maybe you should take a couple hours yourself, being governor and all.

*steps off high horse*

Hologic Acquires Gen-Probe: A View from the Plank

by Greg Emmerich, UW Madison M.S. Biotechnology Program. Business of Biotechnology: Frontiers and Strategies. Final Paper. April 23rd, 2013.  Privacy Disclaimer; Figure Templates.

Executive Summary


  • Hologic closed a $3.97 billion deal to acquire Gen-Probe in August 2012.  Hologic must be able to create significant value in order to justify such a large purchase as it moves forward.
  • Molecular diagnostics is the fastest-growing segment of the in vitro diagnostic market, which is expected to reach $67.2 billion by 2016.
  • The overall analysis of the acquisition is favorable.  However, the market is fiercely competitive and reliant upon decreasing reimbursement plans.
  • Hologic has strong capabilities with its sales force, but is too dependent on single suppliers and very large customers.
  • Success in the market is dependent on ability to innovate and adapt to change.  Hologic’s internal R&D needs to strengthen in that regard.
  • Four action steps are recommended to Hologic to overcome these challenges. Continue reading

Demystifying Big Data: Skytree Brings Machine Learning to the Masses

by Greg Emmerich, UW Madison M.S. Biotechnology Program. Advanced Biotechnology: Global Perspectives. Thesis Paper. April 16th, 2013.


The Digital Revolution has created a knowledge-based society reliant upon a high-tech global economy.  The pace of innovation has been exponential, leaving some to wonder what possibilities the future may hold.

Big Data is the term given for collections of data sets that are too large and complex for traditional hands-on data management and processing.  The term comes from the realm of information technology, but across an increasing number of fields, scientists are encountering situations that fit the category of Big Data.  Astronomy, genetics, and proteomics are a few of the fields beginning to feel the pressure for managing their data effectively.

There are numerous technical challenges going into setting up a system to process Big Data in reasonable amounts of time.  Machine learning algorithms present great potential in their ability to tease out hidden relationships among data sets and make predictions, but these analyses require distributed computing clusters capable of communicating intermediate results between tasks.

Continue reading

Knome: A Model for Personal Genomics

by Greg Emmerich, UW Madison, M.S. Biotechnology Program, Early Drug Discovery Class.  December 7th, 2012.


Predictive, preventative and personalized medicine is increasingly becoming a reality with recent advances to whole genome sequencing. Genome wide association studies wield impressive amounts of data, but due to differences in populations tested and analysis methodology, there are very few such studies that are reproducible. Great strides are being made in academia and industry, and the more research and data is shared, the more robust future studies will be. Knome Inc. has a unique method for annotating and interpreting genomic data that aims to tackle some of the challenges discussed. Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 881 other followers