Here is the You Tube description of his work:
Among the dinosaur bones and 4.5-billion-year-old meteorites on the shelves of Stephen Macko's office are tiny plastic containers that hold hair samples from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, George Washington, Oetzi the iceman and Diane Sawyer.
For the full article (The UVAMagazine) click here and enjoy. Or go straight to the video on You Tube.
An odd assembly, perhaps, but locked within each strand are clues about appetites both ancient and modern. Hair functions as a nuanced physical record of diet over time, "much like a tape recording," says Macko, a U.Va. professor of environmental sciences. He applies the tools of organic chemistry to solve mysteries in fields as diverse as anthropology, nutrition and agricultural policy. How did the lifestyles of ancient Egyptian nobility differ from the lower classes? How accurate are the ingredient lists on product labels? Did Poe's peculiar poetry arise from pollutants in the air he was breathing? Do Americans eat too much corn?
The whole article conjures up such fond memories of trekking to Clark Hall (one of the more interesting building on campus--once you become desensitized to Jefferson's Rotunda and the beauties of the Lawn) to nervously try to successfully pass the environmental science classes that my adviser, Steve Plog, recommended I take. Principles of Ecology nearly did me in. But what a lovely experience to see the genuine joy these scientists take in using their skill set to advance knowledge outside their own disciplines. True academic camaraderie and the joy of learning.
File this one under Inspirational Bits and Teachable Moments
Follow the article through to the end and you will discover that, today, we eat corn and high fructose corn syrup, and more corn. It would appear that we are comprised almost entirely of corn. How many corny jokes am I avoiding? On the strength of this piece, I have ordered the documentary King Corn. It comes highly recommended from a variety of sources. More after viewing.