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April 15, 2015
Society News

Last call: abstract submission and financial aid applications for the 20th International C. elegans meeting, June 24–28, 2015 at UCLA! Deadline is Friday, April 16.

Worm Meeting attendees—we are pleased to announce a new workshop for 2015: "Preparing your educational resources for online publication. " Co-sponsored by CourseSource, this workshop shows educators how to prepare their teaching resources for publication in an online repository. Please have your resource on-hand so that you can take advantage of the dedicated work time! Apply now for this exciting new workshop! Applications are due May 29.

GSA is preparing a response to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Request for Information on steps NIH could take to enhance the impact and sustainability of the research enterprise. We encourage GSA members in the US to respond to President Jasper Rine's message to share your thoughts, which will help inform the Society's response. Please write to president@genetics-gsa.org by April 20.

Congratulations to the poster award winners at two recent GSA conferences!
  • 56th Annual Drosophila Research Conference, March 4–8, Chicago, IL:
    • Undergraduate winners: 1st: Jonathan Cohen; 2nd: Ashley Kline; 3rd: Irina Pushel
    • Graduate student winners: 1st: George Aranjuez; 2nd: Kathleen Cunningham; 3rd: Katharine Schulz
    • Postdoc winners: 1st: Leila Rieder; 2nd: Justin Cassidy; 3rd: Sandra Zimmerman
  • 28th Fungal Genetics Conference, March 17–22, Pacific Grove, CA:
    • Graduate student winners: Fabrizio Alberti; Fumi Fukada; Mark Lendenmann; Abigail Lind; Raphael Manck; Kyla Selvig; and Alina Stiebler
    • Postdoc winners: Sara Branco; Susan Breen; Michelle Leach; Ivan Liachko; Teresa O'Meara; Miriam Oses-Ruiz; Firoz Shah

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The GSA Journals

Spotlight on 2014 Research: From animal domestication to human genome variation, from loblolly genomes to lager genomes, from wild zebrafish sex to
Highlights Covers
untangled metagenomes, last year brought plenty of high points for the GSA journals. So gathering a small selection of those high points into the 2014 Spotlight booklets was a challenging, but rewarding task for the editors of GENETICS and G3. Each Spotlight is a showcase of the excellent research and scholarship published over the course of the year, along with striking images submitted by our authors. Browse the Spotlights here.

How many recessive lethal mutations do humans carry? Estimates of the recessive deleterious allele burden in humans are typically based on the increased mortality in offspring of related couples. However, this approach is confounded by socioeconomic effects. In the April issue of GENETICS, Gao et al. instead used a catalogue of severe genetic diseases in a founder population with a communal lifestyle and a known pedigree that covers 13 generations and more than 1,500 living people. The results were covered by The Scientist and the University of Chicago's ScienceLife blog.

RIGging GATK: The Broad Institute's Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK) provides cutting-edge variant calling methods, but these methods are not readily applicable to organisms lacking large, validated sets of known genetic variants. In the April issue of G3, McCormick et al. provide a workflow for leveraging multiple types of genomic sequence data, including reduced representation and whole genome sequences, to take advantage of the GATK. They demonstrate the advantages of the workflow using Sorghum bicolor and Arabidopsis data.


RIG: Recalibration and Interrelation of Genomic Sequence Data with the GATK
Ryan F. McCormick, Sandra K. Truong, and John E. Mullet
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics April 2015 5: 655-665

Genes to Genomes: The GSA Journals Blog

Adult male Drosophila affinis on glass.
Photo credit: David Duneau
Meeting Report: Defending Drosophila: Fruit flies suffer from an image problem. Maybe it's the alliteration in the name, or the association with bananas, but Drosophila have become a go-to target for politicians looking to ridicule wasteful public spending. In February, presidential candidate and US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) questioned the NIH for spending: "...a million dollars trying to determine whether male fruit flies like younger female fruit flies. I think we could have polled the audience and saved a million bucks." Read the Genes to Genomes report on efforts to defend the value of fruit fly research at the 56th Annual Drosophila Research Conference

Included in this Issue:

April Issue

April Issue


Members in the News

At least fourteen GSA undergraduate and graduate student members were selected to receive National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships or Honorable Mentions. The program provides support directly to individual graduate students pursuing study in a field relating to NSF's mission.These prestigious fellowships provide three years of financial support within a five-year period [more...]

Two GSA members were among those honored with the Canada Gairdner International Award, Canada's most prestigious medical award. The prize is bestowed upon biomedical scientists who have made original contributions to medicine resulting in increased understanding of human biology and disease. Congratulations to Michael N. Hall (Biozentrum, University of Basel) and Yoshinuri Ohsumi (Tokyo Institute of Technology)! [more...]

Criag Pikaard
GSA Board member and GENETICS and G3 Associate Editor Craig Pikaard has been honored by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) as the 2015 recipient of its Martin Gibbs Medal. The award, established in 1993, recognizes individuals who pioneered advances that have served to establish new directions of investigation in the plant sciences. Craig was selected for his ground-breaking work in the fields of nucleolar dominance, gene silencing, and the role and function of atypical polymerases IV and V. [more...]

Education and Professional Development

Funding is available for teams of research and education faculty to develop intro bio lab class modules, thanks to NSF-funded "REIL-Biology." Apply now to receive travel funds to attend conference-associated workshops; applications are being accepted for workshops at Association of Biology Laboratory Education and Ecological Society of America meetings.

With the number of postdocs increasing and academic positions dwindling, what is the future of the postdoctoral system? Changes have been recommended by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) but do we have the will to implement them? Fifteen years ago, the NAS also made recommendations to improve the postdoc experience; however, their report resulted in very little change.

When transitioning from graduate school to a postdoc, how do you survive the Postdocalypse (or avoid it altogether)? The Chronicle of Higher Education's Vitae offers advice. One suggestion: don't defend until you have a postdoc lined up.

Highlights Covers
Are you a PULSE partner ? The Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education (PULSE) is a community of scientists dedicated to department-level implementation of Vision and Change recommendations. Introduce your colleagues to PULSE, including its online toolkit, which offers resources to guide departments through everything from flipping classrooms to strategic planning.

Did you know? GSA provides a trove of online career resources tailor-made for students, postdocs, and early career faculty!

Funding, Fellowships, and Awards

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a notice about potential delays in issuance of awards because of a software update between May 19 and June 3. During this time, activities related to new awards will be greatly restricted, though they do not anticipate payment interruption for previously-funded grants, nor do they anticipate downtime for the grants.gov submission system.

The National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS) announced a request for information (RFI) about a potential new resource for protein expression. The RFI focuses on "types of expression issues that are hard for a single R01 laboratory to tackle...and strategies to use these resources to accelerate progress toward findings that are of both scientific and public health impact." Responses will be accepted until May 15, 2015.

A reminder that April 20 is the deadline to submit letters of intent for NIGMS' Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA) program. Although such letters are not required and do not enter into the review itself, they help NIGMS to plan for the receipt of applications. The MIRA program, established to increase both the flexibility and stability of NIGMS investigators, is currently available to investigators with two or more R01-equivalent awards or $400,000 or more in direct costs who have at least one grant expiring in fiscal year 2016 or 2017. Full proposals are due on May 20.

If your institution is interested in developing a graduate student traineeship program or more effective graduate-level educational practices, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Research Traineeship (NRT) Program is accepting proposals via two tracks until May 6, 2015.

NSF's Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP) is accepting proposals until May 27, 2015. These include opportunities to develop new research tools as well as increase early-career scientist participation in plant genomics.


Picture will go here
Adam Fagen and Sonia Hall meet with ____
Photo credit: David Duneau
GSA was on Capitol Hill yesterday advocating for policies and funding that promote scientific research and education. Trainee Board Representative Sonia Hall and Executive Director Adam Fagen met with a number of Congressional offices including directly with Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), who serves as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee (and chair of its Agriculture Subcommittee) and Senate Commerce, Science, and Competitiveness Committee, among other assignments.

NIH is seeking input on its proposed funding priorities for neuroscience research as part of its Neuroscience Blueprint . The agency particularly welcomes comments on major impediments to and opportunities for neuroscience research that are not addressed by current programs—and ideas for new programs that would address these issues. Responses are accepted through May 25.

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is speaking out for increased funding for biomedical research. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Cantor was quoted as saying "There is probably nothing more stimulative in terms of economic growth than innovation. That innovation comes from basic scientific research."

Community Announcements

Geneticists near New York City may be interested in the New York Academy of Sciences conference on "Microbes in the City: Mapping the Urban Genome," June 19 from 8 am - 7 pm.

Fascination of Plants Day is fast approaching! May 19 is the official day for "helping the world appreciate that plants are unique, useful, and ubiquitous." It is celebrated worldwide; for US-based activities, check out the ASPB website.

And finally...

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Deadline for next issue: April 24, 2015. Send items (and feedback) to Beth Ruedi, eruedi@genetics-gsa.org.