Close Encounters of the Fishy Kind

Hello readers. Sorry this post is so late in the day. The semester has started and I TA genetics in the fall, which means I am about 100x more busy than I used to be. Today I thought I would bring you another fun fish post.

Fish come in all sorts of amazing colors and shapes. I think that is why I like them so much. Well, today’s feature fish really looks like it is from out of this world. It’s the Barreleye fish, Macropinna microstoma. This fish has a transparent head!!!! And green lensed tubular eyes that have the ability to look straight up and forward!!! And you see them through its transparent head!! This fish lives in the deep ocean, where light is extremely scarce. Their eyes are super sensitive and help these fish detect prey in the dark. When you watch the video, the two little holes above the mouth are actually its nostrils. So, watch this video to see this crazy, awesome fish and keep reminding yourself that this is a real fish!! More info can be found at the link here: http://www.mbari.org/news/news_releases/2009/barreleye/barreleye.html

Bill Nye the Awesome Guy

Sorry for the dearth of new posts — classes start this week and my wife and I have been too busy to write.  But in case you missed it, here’s a quick interview with Bill Nye (the Science Guy).  In it, Nye discusses his  love of evolutionary biology. He says, “When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.”  So Nye’s in love with evolution and I am, too.

I guess we can share.

Book Review-The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry

Do you ever wonder if you might be related to the people you are passing on the street? Due to common descent, we are all related. Bryan Sykes is a medical geneticist that investigates the interrelatedness of humans by examining their mitochondrial DNA, and shares the results with you in this book. Continue reading

How many genes?

Alright, so today is the day that I tell you all about my first scientific publication. I hope to explain it in a manner that you can understand with a basic knowledge of biology. Hopefully this post will put me in a good enough mood to work on writing my second paper, which I’m supposed to be doing this week.

Alright, so the goal of my first paper was to answer one question “How many genes causes differences in pigmentation traits?”. I am specifically interested in male pigmentation because 1) Males are more colorful than females when it comes to cichlids and 2) Because male color is thought to be important when it comes to females choosing mates. Continue reading

Why your college genetics class sucks

A college lecture hall — just look at all the excited faces.
From greatcollegeadvice.com

Although I am now a practicing geneticist, I hated genetics when I was in school.  My Genetics 101 course followed the same syllabus that colleges all around the country use, a historical outline that emphasizes discovery — the discovery of phenotypic variation (Mendel and his wrinkled peas), the discovery of DNA and its structure (Watson and Crick and Franklin), the discovery of genetic mutation (in Mendel’s case, a disruptive insertion within the rugosus gene).  We’re presented a top-down view of genetics from phenotype (wrinkled versus smooth) to genotype (mutation in rugosus) that should compel us to ask “Why?”  But before the bell ever rings on that first day, most students already know that the answer to this question.  “Why?” lies somewhere in our DNA and we don’t want to discover it all over again.  And, unfortunately, this historical top-down approach doesn’t increase our understanding of genes in the age of whole-genome sequencing.  In response to this problem,  PLoS Biology published the short article, “Why Do We Have to Learn This Stuff?  A New Genetics for 21st Century Students.”  In it, Dr. Rosemary Redfield describes the problems of current genetic courses and offers her own remedies. Continue reading

Writing is Hard

I am writing this week.  A large part of scientific work is actually writing — writing grants or results or simply writing protocols — but I am also dealing with fiction, too.  And when I’m left staring at a blank page for this many projects, I can only think of one thing:

Continue reading