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November 12, 2014
Society News

GSA is accepting renewals for the 2015 membership year, and this is your last chance to win prizes including free registration to an upcoming GSA conference, free extension to your GSA membership, an Amazon.com giftcard, and a copy of Conversations in Genetics if you renew by November 15. And we'd like to remind postdocs that they can take advantage of the opportunity to join both GSA and the National Postdoctoral Association and save on both memberships!

GSA is standing up for model organisms. The Society recently sent a letter to The Washington Post in response to coverage questioning investment in Drosophila research. Over the next several months, GSA will build a web resource to explain the value of the work our members do conducting foundational research in genetics and working with model organisms from Arabidopsis to zebrafish. Our goal is to proactively explain why such fundamental investigations, especially in model organisms, is critical to enhancing our understanding of living systems and helping to address important challenges from human health to agriculture to energy. We will look to the community to help us identify examples of how previous investments in genetics and model organism research has yielded important insights and led to breakthroughs in our understanding of the natural world. Stay tuned. [more…]

GSA and the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) congratulate Robert Gotwals, a teacher at the North Carolina School for Science & Mathematics in Durham, NC, who is the first winner of the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) Genetics Education Award. The award, co-sponsored by GSA and ASHG, was established in 2014 and recognizes innovative, student-centered classroom instruction. Mr. Gotwals will receive the award this week at the 2014 NABT National Conference. [more...]

Drosophila PIs: Did any of your students earn a PhD between July 2013 and December 2014? Please consider nominating them for the prestigious Larry Sandler Award – winners will deliver an award lecture at the 2015 Drosophila Research Conference, plus receive free registration, airfare, hotel accommodations, and lifetime GSA membership! Nominations are due December 1, 2014.

Workshop proposals are being solicited for the 20th International C. elegans Meeting, June 24–28, 2015, in Los Angeles, CA. Workshops can be based on specific scientific areas, widely applicable technical approaches, community resources, educational issues, or other topics of interest to the worm community. Proposals must be submitted by November 15.

Do you tweet? Join 4,000 others by following the Genetics Society of America on Twitter @GeneticsGSA.

The GSA Journals

GENETICS and G3 team up with bioRxiv: This week, we announced good news for our authors who use the bioRxiv preprint server! The GSA journals GENETICS and G3 are the first scientific journals to partner with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) to roll out a new feature allowing authors to submit their manuscript for peer review at one of our journals and simultaneously post it as a preprint on bioRxiv. The bioRxiv preprint will be immediately available to the public, citable via a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), and open for reader comments and feedback. Read about the success of bioRxiv's first year at ScienceInsider, in an interview with John Inglis and Richard Sever from CSHL. [more...]

Wild sex in zebrafish: Laboratory stocks of zebrafish have fluctuating sex ratios, but the sex determination mechanism in this important genetic model is unknown. In the latest issue of GENETICS, Wilson et al. show that natural zebrafish populations have a single sex determining locus and a female-ZW/male-ZZ sex chromosome system. Unexpectedly, domesticated stocks lacked detectable sex-linked loci. These results suggest that key components of the sex determination system were lost during domestication, and variant mechanisms may have evolved or been unmasked over two decades of laboratory culture.

Wild yeast & diploid genome engineering: In a post at the Saccharomyces Genome Database blog, Maria Costanzo writes about a new paper in GENETICS describing a genome engineering toolkit that works on prototrophic wild and industrial Saccharomyces species, including diploid strains.

Time's running out to get your art on a journal cover! The deadline is November 30 to submit original images for our first ever GENETICS and G3 Cover Art Contest! One winning image will be selected for each journal and featured on the cover of an upcoming issue. Winners and runners-up will also be featured on postcards, the forthcoming GSA Journals blog, GSA Facebook page, Twitter account, and website.

New at the journals blog

Included in this Issue:

October Issue

November Issue


Postdoc Research Associate, Iowa State University, Iowa State University, Department of Genetics, Development & Cell Biology, Ames, IA

Postdoctoral position: proteomics and molecular genetics, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Head, Department of Biochemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Postdoctoral Fellow in Statistical and Computational Genomics, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Program Manager, Expecting Health, Genetic Alliance, Washington, DC

Assistant Professor - Tenure Track, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Board Certified/Board Eligible Genetic Counselor to work within the Pediatric/Adult Genetics Clinic, Johns Hopkins University,Baltimore, MD

Assistant Professor Neurobiology, University of Houston, Houston, TX

Postdoctoral Positions in the Heitman Laboratory at Duke University, Duke University Medical Center, Dept. Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, Durham, NC

Postdoctoral Fellow, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY

Junior Research Group Leader Position with Tenure Track, Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), Amsterdam, Netherlands

Nurse Practitioner, Genetics – Oncology Service, Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck, NJ

Medical Director, Genetic Testing Program, CareCore National, Bluffton, SC

Three positions: Lecturer with Potential for Security of Employment, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA

Bat signals: genomic traces of sensory rewiring

How does evolution rewire an animal's sensory system? In time for both National Bat Week and Halloween, new research in G3 investigated this question by comparing the genomes of bat species that "see" the world in different ways. [more…]

Members in the News

Congratulations to GSA members Victor Ambros and Gary Ruvkun for being named as recipients of the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences! The two GSA members were awarded the prestigious prize for their co-discovery of small non-coding RNAs and demonstrating their role in gene expression using C. elegans. The award-winning scientists met Hollywood glam during a gala hosted by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter and Seth MacFarlane and held at NASA's Ames Research Center. Scientists, celebrity, and Silicon Valley stars mixed, with a guest list of presenters that included Benedict Cumberbatch, Jon Hamm,  Cameron Diaz, Harvey Weinstein, and Kate Beckinsdale. The Breakthrough Prize was staarted by a group of contributors including the founders of Google and Facebook. [more...]

Congratulations to longtime GSA member William B. Wood (Univ of Colorado), 2014 recipient of the Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences from the Stanford University Medical Center Alumni Association. "I've always liked problems that are sort of out of the box...but I don't enjoy science as a competitive sport," he reflects in a Vimeo feature on his career. Among many achievements, Wood is known for his genetic dissection of the mechanism of assembly of the bacterial virus particle and, as former National Academy of Sciences President Bruce Alberts puts it, redefining biology education as "teaching for understanding."

An open letter to Europe urging the removal of barriers to innovation in plant science by authorizing and supporting research with genetically modified crops, and maintaining funding, was published in The Telegraph last week. The letter is signed by numerous prominent European plant scientists, including longtime GSA member Detlef Weigel (MPI Tübingen, Germany).

Education and Professional Development

Have you developed something great for your Fall semester courses? Submit it to GSA PREP for review! We accept resources of all sizes, from short case-studies to semester long laboratories. GSA PREP specializes in resources that help students learn core concepts in genetics while also working on competencies critical for being a well-rounded scientist. Submit the resource, instructor guidelines, and a brief resource justification; no need to collect multi-year assessment data. If you aren't sure if your resource is suitable for GSA PREP, please email Beth Ruedi with a pre-submission inquiry!

In addition to promoting public communication as "part of [a scientist's] job description," this Scientific American blog post promotes the idea of the "Reverse Popularizer," using "pop science" as a means to generate new ideas. Not only does it help the scientist develop new research directions, it engages the public in the very beginning (and arguably most exciting) stage of the scientific process, an often-underappreciated benefit for scientists who communicate with diverse audiences about their work.

Funding, Fellowships, and Awards

The Gruber Genetics Prize is seeking nominations of individuals "who have made original discoveries in the fields of genetic function, regulation, transmission, or variation or in genomic organization" to be considered for its 2015 award. The $500,000 award is given annually to 1–3 scientists in recognition of groundbreaking contributions to any realm of genetics research. Nominations, which must be submitted by December 15, are evaluated by a Gruber Foundation committee made up of individuals nominated by GSA and ASHG. Several GSA members have been honored with the Gruber Genetics Prize in recent years.

Are you already an NSF Graduate Research Fellow? If so, consider applying for the new Graduate Research Internship Program (GRIP), which enables research collaborations with partnering federal agencies. In its first year, GRIP partners include the Office of Naval Research, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The first target application deadline is December 5, 2014.

Nominations are also open for the $500,000 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, which is designed "to encourage and recognize extraordinary and sustained contributions to improving healthcare and promoting innovative biomedical research." Submissions are due December 3, 2014.


Former FASEB President Dr. William Talman blogs on the The Huffington Post: "It is likely that you don't realize what your state and our nation have lost in economic terms and research productivity as a result of recent cuts in the federal budget and budget instability brought on by a failure of Congress to pass a budget in a timely manner."

German ministers have pledged €25 billion to augment the federal budget for research and higher education to cope with increasing grant competition and rising student enrolment. Germany has the fourth highest science budget in the world.

And finally...

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The winning video from the 2014 Dance Your PhD Contest: Uma Nagendra studies plant biology at the University of Georgia at Athens, which she depicts using her skills as a trapeze artist!

Do you have a brief announcement to submit to GSA e-News?
e-News items include news about GSA members — new positions, book publication, awards or grants received and obits; short policy items; brief research news items and grant programs; and, award nomination announcements.

Deadline for next issue: November 20, 2014. Send items (and feedback) to GSA's Communications and Engagement Manager, Raeka Aiyar, raiyar@genetics-gsa.org.