Web 2.0


Testing things out. Soon we will be adding a Google+ feed to the site to find a balance between the mundanity of Facebook and tech-minimalism of Twitter, as well as making for something that lets us share other people’s cool results, ideas, software, projects, and so on.

I’ve also updated the website considerably as I’m sure you can now see. The old one was fine, but busy in a way that made it look dated to me. What, after all, is the purpose of a research lab website - especially for a small program like mine? Make sure people can find information about what we do, who we are, what papers we have published, whether we are taking on new students or postdocs, and other announcements. The old one had more information than anybody ever really needs, or they can email to get more information.

I’ll be cleaning it up more in the coming weeks, and pondering the social media world. As I said, I learn a lot from colleagues on Twitter but it seems to be a quirky club: it can amplify the signal of some work, but is in general still not as visually grepable as the way information is organized in a browser app like G+. We’ll see.

Wiki This Part Two

As has been mentioned before, I really really love wikis. The collective information of many thousands of people with just enough extra time on their hands! Why, just today I was sending a link about the spanish word manzano (apple tree) to my little boy, and that link led me to a Wikipedia link to the Manzano mountains in New Mexico, where I used to live so I followed a link there to the Sandia mountains just north of the Manzanos and came to this picture:

(the giant version is much better) and, reading more about the mountains I loved to hike and bike in when I lived there, I find out this astonishing fact: it is an uplifted coral reef, probably!

And so the amount we can learn when we are all communicating is pretty fantastic. My students in GENE 3000H (Honors Evolution) just finished their website on the interface between climate change and evolutionary processes, and it is really impressive to me how much they accomplished. This started a conversation among the folks in my lab about things like Wikipedia - traditionally, the bane of professors grading undergraduate research papers - being considered a component of scientific outreach. So my student Christine posts this page on turtle barnacles, starting from scratch. Katie was updating the page on Unionid mussels today. We are thinking this will be part of our weekly lab group, when we catch up with what each of us have been doing we’ll discuss the topics we have added to, and learned from. Obviously, Wikipedia is generally only the starting point for inquiry, but why not make it as complete as possible? Similar tools like the Encyclopedia of Life are also great things to contribute to (I haven’t tried this yet - next step!).

New Site

Well you are looking at v.2 of the Wares lab website. I’ve moved it all over to RapidWeaver so it is waaaaay easier to manage and expand/contract as necessary. The blog has been managed in this way for about a year, and it just took me a while to get up the courage (and the time, thank you summer) to make the switch. The previous incarnation was beautifully rendered in PHP by Carrie Bishop, and I greatly appreciate her work but this format will make it easier for me to distract myself from my “real” work.

It has been a week of banging my head against computational things in lots of ways. Turns out, for example, that MrBayes does not fully compile correctly under 64-bit architectures (like Snow Leopard OS 10.6 on my Mac Pro), so I lost a few days of work on freshwater mussel phylogenies figuring that issue out, and ultimately just snagging the compiled version off of my old G5 (32-bit) and everything works fine now, thanks. Maybe someday we’ll actually get these mussel papers out, I’d like to do it soon so I can keep working on them. Fun excuse to go splashing in a river in the summer!

No More Sushi for Me

If you check out “EEB & Flow”, I’ve got a new post there on the intersection of DNA barcoding and sushi tuna. When you have to think too hard about whether you should order something off the menu, it probably isn’t worth eating. Darn, I’ll miss sushi though. I wonder if tofu + wasabe tastes okay?

Dirty Times

You’ve probably heard about the incredible mass of plastic in the North Pacific Gyre, it’s estimated to be twice the size of Texas. The video above shows some work going on in the Pacific quantifying the constant migration of small particles of plastic towards this trash dump. Such a shame we can’t figure out a way not only to clean it up, but to recycle it - maybe make our next generation of pipet tips from this plastic?

Things are running smoothly in the Wares lab right now; 3 papers in press that are having their proofs/final edits juggled, and two proposals. That should make for a busy last few months of the year. I’m also pleased to have been invited to contribute to the more-widely-read blog “EEB & FLOW”, so watch for good stuff there as well.