From the foraging optimization of Casmerodius albus (Great Egret), to the pollination biology of Trillium ovatum (Redwood Trillium) my research has been field dominated. My master's work consisted of scouring California for twenty or so elusive thelephoraceous species of ecto-mycorrhizal fungi in two closely related genera, Hynellum and Sarcodon. Ecto-mycorrhizae are mutualistic associations between higher fungi and woody vascular plants. These associations are crucial for healthy productive forests as the beneficial fungi protect their host tree against disease, increase drought tolerance, and aid in nutrient acquisition. With the ever-increasing utilization of timberlands, determining the ecology and correct taxonomy of this group of fungi became important if theses species were to be properly protected. Two undescribed species were found and three first-time reports of eastern species were made, increasing their known habitat range. But many more questions arose than were answered. The group is extremely variable morphologically and the mating system has not been determined, which makes species delineation very difficult. However, my study has laid the groundwork for molecular studies that will hopefully shed light on some of the more intractable homoplasy.
The stewardship of environment is a domain on the near side of metaphysics where all reflective persons can surely find common ground. For what, in the final analysis, is morality but the command of conscience seasoned by a rational examination of consequences? And what, is a fundamental precept but one that serves all generations? An enduring environmental ethic will aim to preserve not only the health and freedom of our species, but access to the world in which the human spirit was born.
--- E. O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life.
Lately my attention is focused on science literacy. My current approach is twofold. First, in passionately and enthusiastically exploring natural systems with students, I hope to unveil both its beauty and relevance. In the details, patterns emerge that are enormously wondrous, be it the iridescence of a butterfly wing or the signal transduction-cascade of cellular communication. If humans can learn to see this beauty and how it relates to their lives, my hypothesis is that stewardship of the environment will finally become an important priority. Secondly and more generally, I am seeking to make science more accessible and user-friendly. Science is not principally a canon of knowledge and facts, but rather a process by which practitioners communally come to an understanding about the material world in which we all live. This understanding takes the form of a story which summarizes and accounts for a set of observations. With each new observation the stories either work or need to be revised. Consequently, science does not claim absolutes, rather only the most useful and inclusive summaries of observations at any given time in history. It is not some arcane and unattainable authority, rather a continual telling and re-telling of stories that rely on communal agreement to substantiate knowledge. In this light, all are welcome contributors to the on-going human story.
Franklin, W.A. 1999. An Alph-taxonomic Study of Hydnellum and Sarcodon in Northern California. M.A Thesis, Humboldt State University,
Science Education:Dalke, A. and Franklin, W. Towards a Critical Pedagogy of Science. (Manuscript in review).
Franklin, W.A. 2003. California Terrior: A Sense of Place.. Cuizine Magazine: Vol.11, No. 5: p50-53..
Franklin, W.A. 2003. Dry versus Sweet. Cuizine Magazine: Vol. 11, No. 2: p26-28.
Franklin, W.A. 2002. Discovering Wine - Again? A California
Winemaker's Journey East. Cuizine Magazine: Vol. 10, No. 5:
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