i-f0314c04246a8eb4def9774a4817497e-RonM.jpgWe often see memorials written about famous scientists, but we rarely see them about the people who work in the background to help people learn the science in the first place. Ron was one of those people whose work inspired teachers and helped spark excitement in science students throughout the world. I just learned last week that Ron passed away and I'm still in a state of shock. ... Read more
Reposted in honor of the "glow in the dark" kitty clones. Last year, I wrote about photographs of jellyfish that were altered by newspapers, scientific publishers, science education companies, and me (for the purpose of the article) to make it look like the jellyfish glowed. Those jellyfish do NOT glow. Those images lie or at least misrepresent the truth. But that doesn't mean ... Read more
This is a-mewsing.
(Photo Credit: Gyeongsang National University)
i-2a8176eb9d9ceb7a6d62affbf6d42a4f-GlowCats_270x202.jpg When Genetic Savings and Clone shut their doors it looked like wishful cat owners were going to be out of luck and short of kittens.
... Read more
This structure is called a "kissing loop" and I find that name just a bit odd, given the source of the structure.

Now, here's the puzzle: Why would I say that the name "kissing loop" is ironic? Read more
Congratulations to George Cachianes (who I've written about before), his amazing students from Abraham Lincoln High School, and collaborators at UCSF! These students, from a public high school no less, placed in the top 6 finalists, along with only one other US team. The other top teams were: Peking University (China), University of Science and Technology (China), University of Paris (France), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), and UC Berkeley. I'm really impressed that these public high ... Read more
The simple fact is this: some DNA sequences are more believable than others. The problem is, that many students and researchers never see any of the metrics that we use for evaluating whether a sequence is "good" and whether a sequence is "bad." All they see are the base calls and sequences: ATAGATAGACGAGTAG, without any supporting information to help them evaluate if the sequence is correct. If DNA sequencing and personalized genetic testing are to become commonplace, the practice of ignoring data quality is (in my opinion) simply unacceptable. So, for awhile anyway, I'm ... Read more
We have lots of DNA samples from bacteria that were isolated from dirt. Now it's time to our own metagenomics project and figure out what they are. Our class project is on a much smaller scale than the honeybee metagenomics project that I wrote about yesterday, but we're using many of the same principles. The general process is this:
  • 1. We sort the chromatogram data to identify good data and separate it from bad data. Informatics can help you determine if data is
  • ... Read more
It's hard to teach bioinformatics when schools work so hard to keep us from using computers. Anecdotes from the past Back in my days as a full-time instructor, I fought many battles with our IT department. Like many colleges, we had a few centralized computer labs, tightly controlled by IT (aka the IT nazis), where students were supposed to go to do their computing. Instructors also had a centralized computer lab, but over the years, we gained the right to have computers in our offices. Our major battle was whether or not we'd be allowed to use Macs ... Read more
Welcome Bio256 students! This quarter, we're going to do some very cool things. We are going to use bioinformatics resources and tools to investigate some biological questions. My goal, is for you to remember that these resources exist and hopefully, be able to use them when you're out working in the biotech world. I don't believe that bioinformatics is a subject that you can really grasp without getting your fingers dirty. So, this course will include a lot of hands-on work. My friend and collaborator at Johns Hopkins University has given me data sets from the past three years and ... Read more

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