FacebooktwitterlinkedinYoutubeGoogle +

December 17, 2014
Society News

The early registration deadline is approaching for the next Drosophila Research Conference, taking place in Chicago, IL, March 4–8, 2015. The conference will feature a keynote lecture by former GSA President Allan Spradling, a great lineup of plenary and platform speakers, and various career development opportunities including the GSA Trainee Bootcamp. Check out the video on the right for testimonials from the Drosophila community on why you don't want to miss this meeting! Save over $100 on your registration fees by registering before January 16, 2015.

The GSA Journals

New G3 Editors:
 GSA welcomes six new Associate Editors who recently joined the G3 editorial board: Gustavo de los Campos (Univ of Alabama at Birmingham), Christian Marshall (Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada), Chad Myers (Univ of Minnesota), Jeff Ross-Ibarra (Univ of California, Davis), Tanja Slotte (Univ of Stockholm, Sweden), and Marilyn Warburton (USDA Agricultural Research Service).
Read more about the new editors on the GSA journals blog Genes to Genomes.

Rum red deer: Theory predicts that genetic constraints should be widespread, but empirical support for their existence is surprisingly rare. In the latest issue of GENETICS, Walling et al. assessed the prevalence of genetic constraints in a wild, pedigreed population of red deer by analyzing quantitative genetic variation in a comprehensive set of life history traits.

What do collapsible tent poles and the S. cerevisiae Ndc80 complex have in common? In the SGD blog post, A Lot Hinges on Ndc80, Maria Constanzo discusses a recent GENETICS study by Tien et al. revealing that the Ndc80 complex folds tightly early in mitosis, which is critical for its role in helping chromosomes to line up properly on the spindle.

GENETICS and G3 want you to save your energy for doing research, not reformatting manuscripts:

  • Flexible manuscript submission formats: submit your manuscript in any format! Save time and get your work sent for review faster.
  • One-touch manuscript transfer: Because GENETICS and G3 are sister journals, submissions to GENETICS that report high-quality and useful findings—but lack the broad appeal, significance, or novelty of a published GENETICS article—may be offered a transfer to G3. This seamless process either guarantees review at G3, or G3 editors will use GENETICS reviews to offer decisions at G3 within days.

ASHG Meeting Report: The X-factor in complex disease 
Sex chromosomes have been largely ignored in the flood of human genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of recent years. In this ASHG Meeting Report, Melissa Wilson Sayres and Alon Keinan discuss their session on the role of X chromosome in complex disease, including X-linked disease associations and the evolution of X-inactivation.

Wild zebrafish sex: a lab mystery solved
Laboratory zebrafish hide a dirty little secret. Although the tiny fish have proven to be a vital model of vertebrate development and disease genetics, zebrafish reproduction—at least in the lab—has wildly variable outcomes.

Members in the News

Congratulations to GSA member Susan R. Wessler (University of California, Riverside) for being awarded the McClintock Prize for Plant Genetics and Genome Studies by the Maize Genetics Executive Committee. Wessler received the award in recognition of her exceptional contributions to and leadership in the study of plant transposable elements for the last three decades. She also served on the GSA Board of Directors from 2009–2011.

GSA member Steve Scherer appears on Good Morning America.
The MSSNG project, a collaboration between Autism Speaks and Google, was officially launched last week. MSSNG aims to build the world's largest genetic data resource on autism in order to break new ground in the understanding and treatment of the disease. MSSNG director and G3 Deputy Editor-in-Chief Steve Scherer (University of Toronto) appears in a video featured on Good Morning America.

GSA member and former Secretary Mariana Wolfner (Cornell University) discusses her research on the reproductive proteins of Drosophila on the radio show Science Studio.

On-demand science: The company Science Exchange offers Airbnb-like lab equipment sharing for scientists, reports The Economist. GSA member Ethan Perlstein is quoted.

Included in this Issue:

December Issue

December Issue


Postdoctoral Researcher, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA

Public Outreach Manager, American Society for Microbiology, Washington, DC

Assistant Professor - Health Promotion and Genomics Research, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Visiting Assistant Professor, Stetson University Biology Department, DeLand, FL

Asst. or Assoc. Professor, Plant Quantitative Genetics, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA

Assistant Professor - Tenure Track, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

POSTDOC at Oregon State Univ: testing candidate genes for disease resistance in snails, Oregon State University, corvallis, OR

Director, Research Ops, Phoenix Children's Hospital, Phoenix, AZ

Clinical Geneticist, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC

Faculty in Human Genomics, UC Davis Genome Center, Davis, CA

Faculty in Human Genomics and Bioinformatics, UC Davis Genome Center, Davis, CA

Pediatric Geneticist, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Hollywood, FL

Education and Professional Development

The Lilly International Spring Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning is currently accepting presentation proposals for everything from 75-minute workshops to posters. The conference, held in Bethesda, MD, May 28–31, 2015, has "Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning" as its theme. Presentation proposals are due by January 10, 2015.

A report published by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine recommends major changes that will improve postdoctoral training in the United States. In short, postdoctoral positions should be refocused to have training and mentoring at their core, and postdoc salaries should be increased to acknowledge the value of their contribution to research. Importantly, the committee also recommends that graduate students "avoid viewing postdoctoral positions as the default next step, given that growth in the number of postdoctoral researchers far exceeds growth in the number of tenure-track jobs." [more…]

Two other reports, one from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics from the United Kingdom and one from the Future of Research Symposium held in Boston, delved into the "plight of postdocs" aiming for academia. The UK report found that "of 100 science PhD graduates, about 30 will go on to postdoc research, but just four will secure permanent academic posts with a significant research component." In the US report, junior scientists stated that they feel that they are treated as cheap labor, and that an academic career is still presented to them as the default. As a Nature News article states, "the solutions are many, but will require time because they demand a change in culture."

What do you need to know before looking for a postdoc? Naturejobs provides some advice on what steps will help and when you should take them; one of the first steps they recommend is becoming active in a professional society like GSA!

Have you developed something great for your Fall semester courses? Take the time to develop it for online publication over winter break, and 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!

Funding, Fellowships, and Awards

The National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology are awarded to recent PhD recipients for research and training in selected areas. The fellowships are also designed to provide active mentoring of the Fellows by the sponsoring scientists who will benefit from having these talented young scientists in their research groups. Applications are due January 8, 2015.

NSF's Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program invites proposals that address immediate challenges and opportunities that are facing undergraduate STEM education, as well as those that anticipate new structures and new functions of the undergraduate learning and teaching enterprise. Applications are due January 15, 2015.

The AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellows Program places science, engineering, and mathematics students at media organizations nationwide. Fellows have worked as reporters, editors, researchers, and production assistants at such media outlets as the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, National Geographic, and Scientific American. Fellows use their academic training during this 10-week summer program as they research, write, and report today's headlines, sharpening their abilities to communicate complex scientific issues to the public. Applications are due January 15, 2015.


A spending deal reached by the U.S. House and Senate will fund the federal research agencies through fiscal year 2015, which runs through September 30. NIH will receive $30.08 billion (up 0.50% from FY 2014), NSF $7.34 billion (up 2.37%), and USDA's Agricultural and Food Research Initiative is appropriated at $325 million (up 2.84%). The Department of Energy Office of Science and USDA Agricultural Research Service would remain flat. The increase for NIH still leaves its budget below pre-sequestration levels; Science Insider discusses a few areas to receive larger increases and some concerns to be addressed.

A new compromise has been reached in Europe that should allow approval of genetically modified crops to be reached more easily and rapidly, following years of debate. The agreement will allow individual EU countries to overrule EU approvals, and is hoped to ease legislative deadlocks at the EU level.

A new biosketch format will be required for NIH grant applications submitted for due dates after January 24, 2015. The transition to the new biosketch format follows a Request for Information and a series of pilot Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) using the new format over the last year. The new biosketch format extends the page limit from four to five pages, and allows researchers to describe up to five of their most significant contributions to science, along with the historical background that framed their research. Further details are available on the NIH website.

And finally...

Thanks for helping us reach 3,400 likes on Facebook and 4,200 followers on Twitter! Keep up with recent highlights like these by joining us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+:

President Obama humorously muscles his way through molecular biology jargon in a speech commending NIH researchers on their hard work during his visit last week. Source: The Washington Post.
  • James Watson's Nobel prize medal has sold at an auction for a record-breaking $4.1 million to Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov. Usmanov will return the medal to Watson, stating that, "a situation in which an outstanding scientist has to sell a medal recognizing his achievements is unacceptable."
  • The White House has catalogued stories of inspiring women in science and technology, and invites you to share yours as part of efforts to encourage women to pursue scientific careers. Former GSA president Barbara McClintock and Rosalind Franklin are among those featured.
  • A survey of nearly 1,000 scientists examines their motivations, while underscoring the positive and negative influence of competition on scientific culture. "If research stops being about finding out how the world works for the benefit of society, and becomes being about competing to get your work published in a particular journal, then the most creative and brilliant people will go and do something else," warns the Deputy Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which carried out the survey.
  • Who owns the biggest biotech discovery of the century? MIT Technology Review delves into the debate on the origins of the CRISPR DNA editing technology.
  • A quick tale about the perils of misidentified cells plus food for thought: is fierce competition stifling good science?

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: January 2, 2014. Send items (and feedback) to GSA's Communications and Engagement Manager, Raeka Aiyar, raiyar@genetics-gsa.org.