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First ATRF Chili Contest Proves It’s Not Always about the Meat

Wafting cumin through the building, 15 slow cookers full of chili lined an L-shaped conference room at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research Advanced Technology Research Facility (ATRF), as voters strolled past “No electioneering” signs and the tasting began Feb. 29.

Chili No. 13 came out of the gate with a spicy authority. “My tongue’s still tingling,” said one taster. “Just looking at it, you can tell how spicy it is,” said another judge. Thick with ground beef, with a smoky, peppery aroma, it was layered with black beans and corn, and it had a back-of-the-throat burn no other contestant’s offering could match. A nearby box of tissues served as a must-have for anyone sampling the sinus-clearing concoction.

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Be a Mentor and Experience the Excitement of Rediscovery

You don’t really know something until you can teach it to someone. Raul Cachau said he believes this is not only true in academia, but in research laboratories as well. He said that being a mentor means rediscovering things long taken for granted.

“It really forces you to rethink some of the things you do,” said Cachau, Ph.D., principal scientist, Advanced Biomedical Computing Center (ABCC). “It brings focus to many of the things that happen on a daily basis … There’s a positive impact to taking a fresh look at something.”

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