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I'm a graduate student in Ecology and Evolution at Stanford University, where I study ecosystem metabolics and function. In particular, I'm interested in how changes to plant and animal communities... Read More »

Let me begin by saying that I bleed blue. Not Yankee blue or horseshoe crab copper — IBM Blue. I was raised on a corporate paycheck and through all the years my mother worked for the computing giant (and the months I spent in sales internships with them) I never once shook an unfriendly hand or doubted a coworker’s ethics. We were all good people, selling a good product that we believed in — that I still believe in.

But we were also part of corporate America, hard at work building the fortunes of the 1 percent.

How can I reconcile what I know about the personhood of employees with the faceless and troubling power that big business wields on Wall Street and Capitol Hill?

By the time Dr. Maciej Zwieniecki returned to the blackboard, I’d gotten sufficiently lost in the intricacies of fluid dynamics that I wasn’t sure how much more I could absorb from his lecture on vertical water transport in trees.  Still, I could objectively admire his off-the-cuff artwork as he brushed away a cross-section of a tree and quickly outlined a perfectly recognizable…fighter jet?

The audience watched, bemused. Maciej chuckled, then explained how mechanisms borrowed from tree physiology might one day be used to efficiently transfer heat from jet wings to the cockpit.  At least, that’s what the Department of Defense, which funded his basic research on tree mechanics, hoped.