April 16, 2014


Society News

Only one more week to submit an abstract for the 2014 Yeast Genetics Meeting at the University of Washington, Seattle, July 29–August 3, 2014. In addition to the many sessions selected from your submitted abstracts, the meeting will feature several special presentations: the Lee Hartwell Lecture, presented by George Church (Harvard Univ); the Ira Herskowitz Award Lecture, presented by Olga Troyanskaya (Princeton Univ); Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jeremy Thorner (UC Berkeley); and the Winge-Lindegren Address presented by Anita Hopper (Ohio State Univ). In addition, there will be a special presentation by NIGMS Director Jon Lorsch, a tribute to Fred Sherman by Gerry Fink, exciting workshops, and a plethora of education and professional development events. The abstract submission deadline is April 24.

Abstract submission and registration is now open for the 15th International Xenopus Conference, August 24–28, 2014, in Pacific Grove, California. This conference, which is new to the GSA family, focuses on the model at the forefront of efforts in vertebrate systems biology, Xenopus, which has assisted in major advances in our understanding of vertebrate development, cell biology, signal transduction, neurobiology, and much more. Over 90 talks and 200 posters will be selected from submitted abstracts! Deadline for submission is June 10.

GSA is now accepting nominations for the 2015 GSA Awards! Honor your colleagues who have distinguished themselves among the community of geneticists by nominating them for any of the five annual GSA Awards:

To help provide a diverse pool of nominees that represents the excellence in our discipline, GSA encourages the nomination of women and deserving individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in science. Thank you for helping us increase the number of nominees for the 2015 awards, and please pass this information on! The deadline for 2015 award nominations is September 21, 2014.

The fungal genetics community may be interested in contributing to a memorial fund established by St. Cross College, Oxford, UK, in memory of Professor Lorna Casselton. The fund will support an annual lecture in Professor Casselton's memory that will bring an eminent scientist to Oxford which to present groundbreaking biological research. In addition to her research on sexual development in fungi, Professor Casselton was Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society.

The GSA Journals

In the latest issue of GENETICS, Lohse and Frantz confirm that humans and Neandertals interbred in Eurasia, rejecting an alternative hypothesis for why Neandertals share more genetic variants with people from outside Africa than Africans do. The alternative scenario to interbreeding is that the ancestral population in Africa was structured such that the ancestors of the Neandertals came from the same sub-population as the ancestors of humans. Though considered unlikely by some, the ancestral structure hypothesis has remained a formal hole in the argument that we once interbred with Neandertals.

In the new approach, the authors perform an explicit statistical comparison between the two scenarios using maximum likelihood analysis of triplets of genomes (Neandertal, African and either Asian or European). The same method may be useful for detecting ancestral admixture in other extinct or rare species, for which minimal samples of individuals are available.

G3 goes for the gitter

Plate artifacts that interfere with automated colony size quantification
are common and require time-consuming human intervention. In the latest issue of G3:Genes|Genomes|Genetics, Wagih and Parts describe “gitter,” a flexible and automated image-processing tool for colony-based screens that can handle a wide variety of plate formats and reduces artifacts. The tool performs as well as existing software for straightforward analysis and is more accurate at quantifying difficult images.

Members in the News

Congratulations to the at least ten GSA student members who have recently been named recipients of National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships:

Included in this Issue:

April Issue

April Issue


Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

PhD student in Cell Death Research, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR

Principal Research Scientist / Center Director, Center for Applied Clinical Genomics, Temple University, Wilmington, DE

Postdoc position in Developmental and Cancer Genetics, CECAD Cologne, Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Germany

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, Department of Biology, University of Richmond, VA

Research Associate, Next Generation Sequencing, Good Start Genetics, Inc., Cambridge, MA

Postdoc Statistical Genetics and Genomics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Senior Faculty Position in Human and Cancer Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA

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

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

Scientist, Genetic Research, Good Start Genetics, Inc., Cambridge, MA

Graduate Students:

  • Maureen Berg (UC Berkeley)
  • Jessica Camacho (UCLA)
  • Colin Delaney (Univ of Michigan)
  • Alexandra Erwin (Univ of Kansas)
  • Brian Pak Yan Leung (USC)
  • Jackson Liang (Stanford)
  • Allison Quan (UC Berkeley)

Undergraduate Students:

  • Susanna Brantley (Emory Univ)
  • Eric Sawyer (Davidson College)
  • Zachary Sebo (Univ of Missouri, Kansas City)

These students are among those who will receive direct support from NSF to further their graduate education. NSF fellows receive three years of financial support within a five-year period: $32,000 annual stipend and an additional $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to their graduate institution. Please let us know if you also received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2014!

Education and Professional Development

GSA PREP is thrilled to announce its partnership with the Life Science Teaching Resource Community (LifeSciTRC), an online library of more than 6,700 peer-reviewed teaching resources for life science educators at all levels. All original resources published in GSA PREP will be deposited in the LifeSciTRC library, which in turn deposits the resource in two major national digital libraries: BEN and NSDL. GSA PREP publications will join life science resources from eight other professional societies in LifeSciTRC, which receives over 1.3 million views each year. Look for integration with LifeSciTRC over the coming months, and don’t forget to submit your original resources or whole courses to GSA PREP!

If you are teaching an undergraduate course in the life sciences and/or physiology, consider the American Physiological Society’s (APS’) 2014 Physiology Education Community of Practice (PECOP) Fellowships. Applicants do not need to be members of APS to apply! This year, 15 undergraduate educators will be selected to be PECOP Fellows. The Fellows will increase their knowledge of effective scientific teaching methods and ways to apply the science of teaching and learning in their classrooms. Fellows will attend the 2014 APS Conference: Institute on Teaching and Learning (ITL), June 23–27, 2014 in Bar Harbor, Maine, and participate in ITL PECOP Fellow activities. Fellows will also engage in online learning activities and become active members in the Life Science Teaching Resource Community. Application deadline is Friday, May 2, 2014.

A recent study from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) explores nonacademic careers of STEM PhDs, analyzing findings by race and gender for a more specific overview of where current PhDs land in their careers. More than half of biological science PhDs are in nonacademic careers. The AIR study reports that, “there are many reasons for this decision, including changing research interests or the appeal of nonacademic work settings, location or job benefits.”

Funding, Fellowships, and Awards

Last chance to apply for two American Society of Human Genetics Fellowship programs: the Genetics & Public Policy Fellowship and the Genetics & Education Fellowship. The Genetics & Public Policy Fellowship is “for genetics professionals with an advanced degree who are early in their careers and interested in the development and implementation of genetics-related health and research policies at a national level. The fellow will have the opportunity to participate in policy analysis … and to work directly within the U.S. Congress.” The Genetics & Education Fellowship, which is new for 2014, is “designed as a bridge for genetics professionals wishing to transition to education careers” and includes several unique experiences that will allow the Fellow to learn about education initiatives and community involvement. Applications for both are due on April 25, 2014.

The L’Oreal USA for Women in Science Fellowship program is now accepting applications. This national awards program recognizes five women early in their scientific careers and provides up to $60,000 to support postdoctoral research. Applicants must have completed their PhD and started a postdoc before September 1, 2014; be based in the U.S.; and be an American citizen or permanent resident. The application deadline is May 19, 2014.


GSA is looking for volunteers who would like to be considered for appointment to one of FASEB’s Science Policy subcommittees. These subcommittees help develop FASEB policy statements and initiatives as issue-specific elements of the FASEB Science Policy Committee, FASEB’s policy “think tank.” Subcommittees typically meet by conference call once each quarter. Subcommittee members serve three-year, renewable terms. If you want GSA to consider suggesting you for one of these subcommittees, please fill out this statement of interest form by April 23, 2014.

NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences has revealed details about its financial management plan for fiscal year (FY) 2014 in a new Feedback Loop Blog post. The plan is consistent with NIGMS’ emphasis on bolstering its commitment to investigator-initiated research. The institute estimates that the success rates for research project grants (RPGs) will increase to 22% in FY 2014 (up from 19.9% in FY 2013), with about 100 more RPGs to be funded. A white paper from GSA last month called upon NIGMS to increase the percentage of its budget committed to RPGs like R01s.

Nearly 250 Members of Congress have signed letters to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees calling for strong support of funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The letter to the House Appropriations Committee, organized by Rep. David McKinley (W-WV), Rep. André Carson (D-IN), Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), and Rep. Peter King (R-NY), and signed by 186 House members, requests that NIH receives at least $32 billion for FY 2015. The letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, organized by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), was signed by a majority of the Senate (57 members) and calls for maintaining a “strong commitment” to funding for NIH. Please join GSA in thanking these Members for publicly declaring their support for NIH, and we hope that they follow with votes to provide funding for NIH consistent with these letters.

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: April 25, 2014. Send items to Beth Ruedi, eruedi@genetics-gsa.org.