Another re-post from another blog Why Evolution is True, named after his book. This time from Jerry A. Coyne, who you might know as one of the two authors (H. Allen Orr being the other; Allen Orr was a recent speaker (talk 1 and talk 2) in the Storer Lecture Series) of the book Speciation.
At the beginning of my talk the other day, I showed a slide that I’ve often used throughout my career: the “seven ages of the scientist”: that is, the various activities we engage in as our career progresses from our Ph.D. to our dotage. I usually put an arrow next to the stage I’m at when I give the talk (I’m currently at stage 7).
I’m often asked for copies of that slide (in fact, a commenter requested one here), so I reproduce the latest version of the text. Steal it and alter it if you want!
This melancholy career path is drawn, of course, from Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage” speech spoken by Jaques in As You Like It (if you haven’t read it, click the link: it’s wonderful).
The Seven Ages of the Scientist
- As student, listens to advisor give talk on student’s own work
- As postdoc, gives talks about his/her own work
- As professor, gives talks about his/her students’ work
- Talks and writes about “the state of the field”
- Talks and writes about “the state of the field” eccentrically and incorrectly—always in a self-aggrandizing way.
- Gives after-dinner speeches and writes about society and the history of the field
- Writes articles about science and religion
Right before my talk, my friend David Hillis (a systematist) noted that there should be a stage 8: “blogs about science and religion.” But of course that doesn’t apply to me since I do not “blog.”
Link to original blog post.
Recently, Marina Ellefson published together with her PI, Frank McNally, a paper in the Journal of Cell Biology.
Cytoplasmic dynein is a large multi-subunit molecular motor that is required for many cellular processes including spindle positioning. In the nematode C. elegans, cytoplasmic dynein is required for positioning the acentrosomal female meiotic spindle at the cell cortex prior to anaphase chromosome segregation. This dynein-dependent event occurs at a precise time during meiosis and is under cell cycle control, requiring activation of the anaphase-promoting complex (APC). In this study, we treated metaphase-arrested embryos with a small molecule inhibitor and found that cyclin B/CDK-1, a cell cycle driver and APC substrate , inhibits dynein-dependent meiotic spindle positioning. Inhibition of CDK-1 results in increased microtubule binding of the dynein activator, dynactin, suggesting that cyclin B/CDK-1 inhibits dynein-dependent spindle positioning via reducing the microtubule binding affinity of dynactin. This novel mechanism of cell cycle dependent regulation of cytoplasmic dynein may be important of other dynein driven processes.
Link to the original paper.
This is a re-post from another blog by Rod Carvalho; here is the original link.
Here’s a rather interesting and thought-provoking paper: Can a Biologist Fix a Radio? (PDF – 469 KB), by Yuri Lazebnik. The paper is not exactly new, but it’s news to me. It’s all about how experimental biologists would try to find out how a radio works. The article suggests that an engineering-like approach would lead to a deeper understanding of how cells work.
Conceptually, a radio functions similarly to a signal transduction pathway in that both convert a signal from one form into another (a radio converts electromagnetic waves into sound waves). My radio has about a hundred various components, such as resistors, capacitors, and transistors, which is comparable to the number of molecules in a reasonably complex signal transduction pathway. I started to contemplate how biologists would determine why my radio does not work and how they would attempt to repair it. Because a majority of biologists pay little attention to physics, I had to assume that all we would know about the radio is that it is a box that is supposed to play music.
How would we begin? First, we would secure funds to obtain a large supply of identical functioning radios in order to dissect and compare them to the one that is broken. We would eventually find how to open the radios and will find objects of various shape, color, and size. We would describe and classify them into families according to their appearance. We would describe a family of square metal objects, a family of round brightly colored objects with two legs, round-shaped objects with three legs and so on. Because the objects would vary in color, we will investigate whether changing the colors affects the radio’s performance. Although changing the colors would have only attenuating effects (the music is still playing but a trained ear of some people can discern some distortion), this approach will produce many publications and result in a lively debate.
SAVE THE DATE – Monday, October 10, 2011
Consortium for Women and Research
Distinguished Women in Science Lecture Series
Dr. Carol Greider
Professor and Director of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins Institute of Basic Biomedical Sciences
Winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine
Dr. Greider is a molecular biologist best known for her pioneering research on the structure of telomeres, which are repeating blocks of DNA at the ends of chromosomes. She was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack Szostak, for their discovery that telomeres are protected from progressive shortening by the enzyme telomerase. Telomerase is a key enzyme in cancer and anemia research.
Luncheon, 12-1:30pm, main campus, location TBA Research Lecture, 4-5:30pm, UCDMC Mind Institute Further announcements will follow.
Link to biography of Dr. Carol Greider, published in PNAS.