Hey everyone! Go and welcome Adrian to Tumblr! He’s a scientist, musician and radio host, as well as a science-musician, musician-radio host, and radio host of a science show. He’s got it all! Go follow him at Stoked on Science.
Had to pull this reply out of the bunch because it made me laugh:
emmlura said: Do you have any photos of you in your lab coat? js.
Nope, I can’t say that I do! I don’t wear a labcoat, actually. I prefer a nice-looking pair of jeans, a well-fit t-shirt (or something with pearl snaps - hey, it’s Texas) and some comfortable Chuck Taylors. Consider that outfit the modern labcoat.
But hey, I guess some people really go for the lab coat look :)
By chunks that jump about genomes, do you mean transposons? I think it’s cool that your getting your PhD. I’m a bio undergrad and aspire to get my PhD in environmental science. Good luck with your research!
You want details? I’ve got details! First off, I will say that I don’t work on transposons like you are probably thinking, but rather an ancestor of transposons. I study an ancient retrotransposon that does its job as RNA. What does that mean? Let’s take a look…
If it was your job to design a genome, what is the simplest way you would do it? Pretend that you only needed 26 genes to be alive, and they were known by their names A, B, C … all the way to Z. You’d put all of them together on some piece of DNA, right next to each other, and it might look like this:
Pretty compact, right? Well real genomes don’t look like that. They have many interruptions in them, some of which are called introns. So the genome looks more like this:
A—-B-x-C————-D——E————————F … etc.
How the hell did that happen? It’s not a logical way to make a genome, right? Well, some introns (like the one I work on), waaaaaayyyyyy back in evolution developed the ability to jump around. See that “x” up there? That’s our mobile element. When it gets transcribed to RNA, it goes through a few processes and then it jumps back into the genome. It can either do this at the original spot:
Or at a new spot:
We study why it does that, how it does that, and how if it did that many, many, many times over the course of evolution, you might take a genome like the simple one and make it look like the genome we have today. Make sense? Ok, done geeking out on my own work for the time being, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Absolutely. Next to Ke$ha songs, it is the single greatest danger facing the human race! Tell you what, let’s just assume for a minute that people aren’t causing it (which isn’t correct, but for the sake of argument).
The number of mouths to feed on Earth will grow by 2-3 billion in the next couple decades. Most of this will be in poor nations with poor food security. Moreover, it takes something like 4 pounds of grain (or equivalent energy) to produce one pound of protein, fish or land animal.
So if extreme droughts and floods throw farming into chaos, and ocean acidification and habitat change knocks out our fish stocks, and feed supplies for food animals are destabilized … well, let’s just say that the fighting that would occur would make Islamic terrorism look like an amusement park.
Are you really a scientist? What type of research do you do?
I am a 100% real, bona fide scientist. I am a biologist (a few years into getting my PhD), and I do work on chunks that jump around inside genomes and figuring out how they might have help evolve the way genomes look today.
Hi, Joe! I'm glad to have stumbled on this blog and I'm happy that it was featured on the radar; I can't tell you how many times I wished for science to be considered cool during high school. Kudos for what you're doing.
Do you have any pet peeves regarding people (non-scientists) and science?
I pound my head into a wall whenever I see animals grossly misidentified. The worst example? Someone's multiple snapshots from a trip to the zoo of pelicans labelled as flamingos.
Thanks for checking my blog out and I hope you stick around! It’s my goal to make that wish of yours from high school come true, because science IS cool!
I have a ton of pet peeves when it comes to the way some people treat science. Like stating “FACT:” before saying something, or insisting that ‘Scientists have proven __________”. Many people also have a tendency to just repeat what they are told instead of looking back to find actual sources.
None of this means that they are bad people, it’s just that they aren’t connected to science and scientists. They feel like they are on the outside looking in. Heck, most probably haven’t even met a scientist. That’s what a blog like this is for, to show people how science is awesome and all around them every day. To show them that they can connect directly to it instead of just reading about it in the newspaper. That they can look at the world in a way that says “Give me proof, then I will believe”. And to show them that they can know a scientist (Me!).