Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What I'm Working On

In talking with various people, I have learned that my current PhD advisor posted what he was currently working on on his website during his graduate work. The underlying reasoning was that if he put it up on the web, he'd better actually get it done, and thus this may have contributed to his massive productivity. In the interests of reducing my procrastination, I'm going to do something similar here, and I'll try to add this to the sidebar as well.

At the moment, having just started my PhD two days ago, I have a couple of projects still on the go from my time at SFU.

1. Rediploidization by Transposable Elements in Salmonids
A paper, written in collaboration with two other people, about a verbal model we've developed for how extant species of salmonids have undergone various genetic and genomic changes in a process we term "rediploidization" where their genomes have decayed to diploidy from a tetraploid ancestor. It's somewhat written at this point, although work on this has been very slow due to the difficulties I've had in choosing the best format in which to display our ideas. My aim is to send this to my co-authors for their input (Methods and Materials, and Figures, primarily) by February 1.

2. Sex Differences in Recombination
This currently exists as a PowerPoint slideshow I presented at a Les Ecologistes seminar at SFU back in March of last year, because I didn't want to bore people with a re-hash of my M.Sc. defense talk, as well as a few notes, some papers I've taken relevant notes about, and some ideas in my head. I don't know who I'll be collaborating with on this project - though I have two co-authors lined up that I have independently talked to each. They don't know about each other, but they both read this blog (one more than the other), so posting this might stimulate some useful discussion and work (by me). The basic idea is to write a review paper that summarizes the available (and one novel) hypotheses that attempt to explain the wide-spread phenomenon of males in animal species producing sperm that are significantly less recombinant than eggs produced by females of that species. Rainbow trout are the poster-child of the phenomenon - males recombine their games about 1/4 compared to females.

3. Biology 2XX: Scientific Literature
There's even less in existance about this paper than number 2, above. In TA-ing BISC 302 Genetic Analysis for two semesters last year at SFU, it appeared to me that the majority of the 3rd- and 4th-year students in the class had a very poor understanding of what, exactly, scientific literature really is, and how to read and write it. Professors in the department told me that they expected their students to "just know" this material, without taking a course with any section specifically devoted to the topic. The instructor of 302 encouraged me to develop a course-pitch for SFU, which is woefully deficient in second-year laboratory-based biology courses. There are journals, though I am unfamiliar with them, that are devoted to such teaching practices and course design, so I have to learn how to write these ideas up in an acceptable format.

PhD Work
Now that I'm somewhat "settled in" at Guelph, I will also have (hopefully many) papers to write during and about my PhD work. Today is too early for any specific titles, I think, though I hope to have some solid ideas before the end of February. Much of my work will come from the "Discovery Science" of my first field season (this summer), and I'll most likely go where the data take me. Possible ideas at this point involve the prevalence of endopolyploidy (in which an animal has different levels of ploidy [number of chromosomes] in different somatic tissues) in various groups and various environments, testing current theories of the role of latitude and climate on genome sizes and the occurence of polyploidy in different environments, particularly tetraploidy in colder conditions.


Carlo said...

What??? Then how will we decide primary authorship?!?!? Damn you!

But seriously, discovery projects are the schiznit. It's like you can't fail! I remember working on a discovery project... Not real science you say? I say bullshit...

TheBrummell said...

I never said "Discovery" wasn't "real" science. It's like you can't fail because, if you set it up right, either potential result (we found X to be true, we found X to be false) is probably publishable.

We'll still decide authorship by coin-flip. RG's authorship on this depends on his level of interest and input (and tolerance of me working on stuff without his name on it... so far, for project 1, so good).

Carlo said...

Sorry, I was implying the collective 'you'... Yet another limitation of the English language...