November 20, 2013


Society News

Did you know that more than 20% of the GSA membership is based outside of the United States?  As an international association, we invite geneticists worldwide to join as members. Don’t forget to join or renew your 2014 GSA membership before December 1, 2013, and you will be entered in a raffle to win one of several prizes including complimentary registration to a GSA conference and a free extension to your membership!

Be sure to nominate deserving new PhDs in Drosophila research for the Larry Sander Memorial Lecture by December 22, 2013.  The Award will honor an outstanding new doctorate who will speak at the 55th Annual Drosophila Research Conference, March 26–30, 2014, in San Diego, California.

Speaking of the Drosophila Research Conference, the abstract deadline is fast approaching. Be sure to submit your abstract for a platform or poster presentation by December 9, 2013!

Eleven undergraduate GSA members have received Victoria Finnerty Undergraduate Travel Awards, allowing them to attend the 55th Annual Drosophila Research Conference and present their research to a worldwide audience.  Congratulations to the winners! We look forward to seeing your work in March.

  • Daniel A. Friedman, Univ of California, Davis
  • Nancy J. Levansailor, SUNY - Fredonia
  • Katharine Majeski, Kennesaw State Univ
  • Aidan L. McParland, Univ of New England
  • Marvin Nayan, Univ of Washington
  • Trung T. Phan, Univ of Washington
  • AnnJosette Ramirez, Arcadia Univ
  • Zachary L. Sebo, Univ of Missouri - Kansas City
  • Letitia Thompson, The College of New Jersey
  • Daniel M. Wong, Univ of California, Los Angeles
  • Chenling Xu, Univ of California, Davis

The GSA Journals

Want your work discovered sooner than later? With early online, your GENETICS and G3 manuscripts are deposited in PubMed, Google, and Google Scholar within a week of acceptance, complete with DOI.

This month in G3, Sharma et al. (2013) detail construction of reference chromosome-scale pseudomolecules for the potato using a combination of genetic mapping and informatics approaches. This study significantly increases the size of the anchored and oriented fraction of the potato genome assembly published in 2011. The analysis integrates the genome with a new linkage map as well as other genetic and physical maps of the potato and the tomato, a closely related crop plant. The methods will be instructive in building improved genome assemblies.


In the November issue of GENETICS, check out five new Methods, Technology, and Resources (MTR) papers! Including:

  • Cheng et al. (2013), who propose variable selection to choose a subset of informative traits for multitrait quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping. Their method achieves optimal statistical power for QTL identification and for disclosing the most relevant traits. Learn their practical strategy to effectively take advantage of multitrait analysis when the number of traits under consideration is too large.
  • Skotte et al. (2013), who present a new method for inferring an individual’s ancestry that takes the uncertainty introduced in next generation sequencing data into account. This is achieved by working directly with genotype likelihoods that contain all relevant information of the unobserved genotypes. Using simulations and publicly-available sequencing data, the method reveals high accuracy even for very low-depth data. At the same time, the authors demonstrate that applying existing methods to genotypes called from the same data may introduce severe biases.

Education and Professional Development

A commentary in The Chronicle of Higher Education highlights the paradox of graduate study in the United States: graduate schools are often the “worst-designed and worst-administered” major academic program in research institutions, yet more than half of the Nobel Prize winners in science and economics in recent years did their graduate work at U.S. universities.  The author, former Harvard president Derek Bok, argues that one of the biggest defects in graduate programming is providing little opportunity to prepare graduate students to teach

An ad hoc panel of the National Academies’ Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy will soon release an update on its assessment of the postdoctoral experience and is expected to address how well postdoc programs meet the needs of students and the research enterprise.  One topic to be addressed is the “postdoc glut,” which is detailed in this article in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.  While only about a quarter of PhDs found faculty research careers “extremely attractive,” many still pursue academic careers despite the lack of available positions.

Awards, Fellowships, and Contests

Last chance to be nominated for the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, which recognize the country’s most promising young faculty-rank scientists and engineers in the disciplinary categories of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Chemistry.  One Blavatnik Laureate from each disciplinary category will receive $250,000 in unrestricted funds. Candidates must have been born in or after 1972. Deadline: November 22, 2013.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a Dear Colleague Letter announcing the continuation of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program’s Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW).  GROW provides NSF graduate fellows with an international travel allowance to promote research collaborations in partner countries outside of the United States.

FASEB wants you to Stand Up for Science!  Create an exciting, informative, 1–4 minute video to help educate Americans about the importance of federal support for research, and you could win $5,000.  Enter by November 30, 2013.  For inspiration, check out the 2012 winning video.


Several reports have been released recently detailing the drastic impact sequestration is having on research, the automatic across-the-board cuts in federal support applied earlier this year. ScienceWorksForU.S., a project of the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and The Science Coalition, has found “fewer grants, cancelled projects, staff reductions, and reduced learning opportunities.” NDD United, a coalition trying to stop budget cuts in nondefense discretionary programs, has released a report called “Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Have Made Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Secure,” which looks across the breadth of cuts to public service spending, including a 20% reduction in purchasing power for investments in scientific research in just the last three years.

Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has released a draft of the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act, meant to replace the 2010 America COMPETES Act.  FIRST stipulates that funded research must be “in the national interest” and satisfy one or more of six goals that extend beyond the NSF mission of advancing research and developing an ideal scientific workforce.  Additionally, each grant would require the name of the NSF employee who agreed to fund the research, as well as a written justification of that decisionScientists worry that such a requirement would open program managers up to public scrutiny and that the public may not understand the scientific review process behind funding decisions.

Lawrence C. Brody, a geneticist and genomicist, has been named as the first director of the new Division of Genomics and Society at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).  Dr. Brody has recently been working in various roles at NHGRI, including chief of the Genome Technology Branch of the intramural research program and chief scientific officer of the trans-NIH Center for Inherited Disease Research.

And finally…

Recent highlights from the GSA’s social networking platforms.  Keep up with the buzz by joining us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn:

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 29, 2013.  Send items to Beth Ruedi,