My New Research Project and PaperBackSwap

I’ve got good news and bad news for today.

The surface and cave morphs of Astyanax Mexicanus (click for link)

First the good news: I’ve started a new job!  I am no longer a lowly graduate student, I’ve been promoted to fancy “postdoctoral fellow”.  I am still at UMaryland, I still study fish, and I still working on their eyes.  But I get to work in a new lab and study blind fish, or Mexican tetras (Astyanax mexicanus).  Astyanax are cool because they have two morphs: an eyed, surface-dwelling morph (surface fish) and an eyeless, cave-dwelling morph (cave fish).  I plan to use population-genomics to help identify the genes and mutations responsible retinal generation in Astyanax, which is a model for several human retinal diseases.

Now for the bad news: There will be no book review today.  I’m just too busy with the new job, plus I’m still working on one project from my doctoral dissertation.  But for a while now I’ve been meaning to tell you all about PaperBackSwap.  It’s a website that allows you to swap books with other readers.  Each time you request a book from somebody, they pay to ship it to you (generally about $2.50); the next time someone requests a book from you, you pay.  The rate is higher than some used book stores (though not many), but it is lower than buying from Amazon, which automatically costs $4.00 for shipping.  My wife and I have swapped around 15 book on PaperBackSwap, and I’m always surprised by the books people request — they ask for titles I never thought I’d get rid of.  The best part of shopping at used book stores is that you find titles that they no longer sell at big chain stores.  Well, PaperBackSwap is about the world’s largest used book store.  Check it out.

This Caturday I’ll have actual video of Stephen Jay Gould cat, and next week my wife will write a book review of Les Miserables.  Now back to work!

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