comics

Stats

Summer is here so there isn’t a ton to report. I’m the new Graduate Coordinator, so have to think of new ways to bug the students! One thing that we try to bug our students about is their statistics background. I promise you, whoever you are reading this, that if you are still in the formative years of your career - or even if you are old like me - you’ll probably be better off if you understand statistics and probabilities a little bit better. If nothing else, you’ll be able to interpret political polls better, and will do better when you visit Vegas. But in the meantime, old friend and colleague Alisha Holloway recently posted this from a bioinformatician’s blog, and it summarizes what I’m talking about better than I can....


(xkcd, of course)

Oh, one bit of newsworthy lab-ness. We finished the BeadXPress run with the 5th plate about 6 months past its “expiration date”. We were nervous as to whether this date was just CYA by Illumina or if the reagents really would decay, but it turns out that our genotype rate was just fine on the last plate so Christina is set to finish her dissertation soon!

Also, I don’t know why the style is messed up on my website. Will fix.... someday.

Outreach

Although in principle it should be easy to get people excited about science - tracking pathogens through an endangered coral population, monitoring genetic diversity to understand the larval dispersal of species on the Chilean coast - it is really tough to translate this excitement to the general public. XKCD seems to get it.

Baby It's Cold Outside

We woke in Athens to -6°C and winds, which made me really appreciate my building more than usual by the time I arrived after the 10 minute bike ride to get here. Figured it was time I updated before the semester is completely gone. Our lab did make it out to celebrate the end of a pretty good semester, we all (well, almost all, there was a final the next day...) headed to Trappeze to warm our insides and toast to our shared dislike of leafblowers. Most of all, it is good to have a lab full of people who get along and keep their heads, and maintain their enthusiasm in sweet and hard times about their passion for science. It was kind of a rough week in that regard, we had all together three papers rejected in recent days (but one accepted). The other papers will find the light soon enough.

Speaking of papers that need to find the light, I offer the following linked manuscript up to the science gods. This is a short paper that was orphaned from my dissertation, and this summer I challenged myself to write a manuscript on these data in one day. I actually took two, or parts of two, days knowing that it was only a tiny descriptive study of a limpet and perhaps no more interesting than the Genbank numbers contained within, but I guess I hope the data will be useful to somebody who is starting their graduate work and is considering work on Tectura testudinalis. David Reid is a wonderful colleague who I met at the CORONA meetings, and he was kind in his rejection, so I’m going to put this one into a web bottle and cast it to sea.

Wares_Tectura

The paper isn’t wrong, just insufficient. But the limpets are nice, so good luck little paper.

Our final news for the lab would be that we managed to earn three awards at the Genetics Department holiday party, I can’t remember which categories Christine’s entries were in but the vegan chickpea-spinach Indian-style dish I made got a blue ribbon in the vegetarian category, I’ll be sure to dogear that page in my cookbook!

Also if you are looking for entertaining reads on evolution and/or bees, check out the work of Jay Hosler (an image is on the “Invert Comics” page), a biologist who has combined his knowledge and skills as a cartoonist to generate some pretty interesting outreach.

Keeping it Unreal

One of my favorite local cartoonists (his work was shown previously in the “Zombie Semester” entry) is Joe Havasy. A bizarre blend of biology with gory illustration and pop colors is what attracts me to the paintings in my office of a squid catching and squeezing a whale on a brilliant bubbly background. Here, Joe actually makes some of our least attractive study organisms - freshwater mussels - look very cool indeed (as they are!):