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Keep your toes on the line

By Benjamin Brown, 2015 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Plant Science

Posted Jul. 16, 2015

After an all too eventful expedition to the faraway land of Texas, the team felt that a reprieve from any similar action was necessary. I, for one, with my wonderful gift of insomnia, was explicitly exhausted and, therefore, wholeheartedly agreed with the team's general demeanor toward action. And so, for the first time in a long while, we approached the weekend with no plan in sight.

I generally consider this laid back approach to planning as the more palatable choice on any general weekend, and I took this weekend in stride. No long car trips, no cantering about city blocks with its denizens. Freedom to do anything I wanted in the town of Ardmore all in the name of spontaneity.

The first and obvious choice in this newfound freedom was to open a few good books and plug away. There's nothing quite like disguising a potentially boring morning in my life with the excitement of another character's adventures. Nevertheless, the bounteous sun sent rivulets of light through the cracks of the blinds in my window, and I could not forsake the call of the wild for long.

slackline
Ben Brown (far left) shows (from left) fellow Noble Summer Research Scholars in Plant Science Johanna L'Heureux and Debotri Chatterjee and intern Andrew McNair how to balance on the slackline.

Gathering two of my fellow troupers with me, Jessi and Johanna, we set out into the woods to explore some of nature's paths "less traveled." At least that's what I told them we would do. I ended up leading them into some of nature's roads that were never traveled until we three musketeers bumbled along. My accomplices thought it necessary to return to some of the more "beaten paths," and after assuring them we weren't lost (they really should have that figured out by now; I will always find the way home for them, this isn't the first), we eventually weaseled our way out of the vast woods and back to the paved trail.

Yet I was not finished. I had brought my slackline, and I'd been dying to set it up again. If you are unaware of the wonders of a slackline, think tightrope walking. It's close enough to what I'm about to describe. Slacklining is an art. As my master Cameron taught me, "You must become 'One' with the 'Line.'" I would not be surprised if this is the sort of thing ninjas used to hone their skills of terror, which, if you knew me well, would also lead you to a conclusion that lacked any astonishment that I would be alighted upon a slackline. After an hour or so of my balancing act, and coaching my fellow musketeers, the slackline was pulled down and we returned to home base.

However many endorphins were released in conquering the wild woods and gravity on the line, it was not enough. The human desire to conquer all around me still roiled about in my blood. There was but one option left: the Lord of the Rings Risk, the board game that would allow me to conquer all of Middle Earth from the comfort of the couch. It hardly gets better than this. Nearly a week later the game is still in progress. But don't worry. I will pull ahead. And I will win. Keep your toes on the line Jessi and Johanna, or else your fall will be a lot greater than the fall from the slackline.

About the Author

Benjamin Brown is a 2015 Noble Summer Research Scholar in Plant Science who grew up on a farm in Story City, Iowa. He is currently studying agricultural biochemistry at Iowa State University, where his primary focus is studying and engineering plant proteins that defend against pathogens. His summer project involves creating a yeast two-hybrid library to determine protein interactions in root hairs.

About the Author

Benjamin Brown is a 2015 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Plant Science who grew up on a farm in Story City, Iowa. He is currently studying agricultural biochemistry at Iowa State University, where his primary focus is studying and engineering plant proteins that defend against pathogens. His summer project involves creating a yeast two-hybrid library to determine protein interactions in root hairs.

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