The blog is growing!
With the new year comes a new associate editor: yours truly. As such, I’d just like to take this opportunity to say hello to all of the readers and members out there and tell you a little bit about myself and what I plan to bring to the AGA blog over the course of the next year.
A bit about me
I am an evolutionary biologist with a special interest in behavioral genetics. In my dissertation work I used a variety of techniques (i.e. RNA-sequencing, QTL mapping) to begin to unravel the role gene expression plays in interspecific variation of cricket song phenotypes. In my free time I enjoy writing speculative fiction, making music, gaming, and getting outside.
Needless to say, genetics fascinates me—from individual networks and pathways to population-scale evolutionary changes. It is a field that I believe when all is said and done will be considered the uncontested star of 21st century, much like particle physics was in the 20th. Never before have we been able to edit genomes with base-pair resolution. Never before has it been easier for individual labs to make outstanding contributions to our understanding of general principles of speciation or molecular genetic mechanisms. Never before has sequencing been cheaper or more accurate, and never before have so many resources been dedicated to creating software programs that help us make sense of mind-bogglingly large datasets.
My goals and philosophy
First and foremost, I am a firm believer that effective science communication is of paramount importance to science proper. The world is changing faster than ever before. We live in a moment in time where scientific and technological innovations spread from the bench to public sphere quicker than ink spreads in water. Without clear communication about the implications and importance of the science we do, non-experts are left with no choice but to throw up their hands and believe the first thing they hear. More often than not, this comes in the form of misleading information or outright lies.
But being unable to keep up with the rapid pace of progress is not a problem that is limited to just non-experts. It exists in academia as well. It is becoming difficult for everyone—from Graduate Students to Post Docs to PIs—to stay updated of everything going on inside their own disciplines, let alone the broader scientific community. The pace of discovery is simply too rapid. And so, strong inter- and intra-community science communication is essential if our goal is to avoid further fracturing of sub-disciplines into sub-sub-disciplines and sub-sub-sub-disciplines and so on.
As the new associate editor of the American Genetics Association Blog, I aim to steer this ship into waters teeming with exciting posts. I want to put up easy to understand how-to’s for important computational analyses. I want to highlight weird animal/plant systems and interesting projects that have the potential to drive innovative thinking across fields. I want book reviews, opinion pieces, R code, and more. Of course, I also want to continue with the Behind the Science and EECG posts you have come to know and love.
My goal is to curate a small corner of the internet where our community (and of course anyone who happens to stumble into it!) can parse these things in fun, bite-sized chunks. Over the next year, I hope you’re inspired. I hope you learn something. I know I will.
P.S. I am open to pitches for blog posts going forward! If you’d like to write a piece for the AGA blog, please send an email to haydenwallerwrites (at) gmail.com with the subject: “Blog Pitch”.