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Comment: Re:No lab courses - no meaningful science educatio (Score 3, Informative) 106

by GAATTC (#46794271) Attached to: Minerva CEO Details His High-Tech Plan To Disrupt Universities
Just to clarify. Lab experiences = building recombinant DNA constructs, making transgenic organisms, using $500k microscopes, taking advantage of staffed greenhouses and animal facilities. No amount of online simulation can come anywhere close to replicating time spent in a real research lab.

Comment: No lab courses - no meaningful science education (Score 4, Insightful) 106

by GAATTC (#46794259) Attached to: Minerva CEO Details His High-Tech Plan To Disrupt Universities
I teach Biology at a small prestigious liberal arts college. My students do their real learning in the laboratories associated with each course and in their independent research projects. Their research projects often run for more than a year and include full time summer research experiences - it is an apprenticeship. This is where they learn to be Biologists and where they get the value out of the college. No amount of book learning or seminar participation can prepare them for the challenges of actually doing science. Growing living organisms, troubleshooting experimental protocols, interpreting data, and having to write and talk about their results (which are rarely 'clean') gives them the skills to make discoveries which will drive technology forward.

Comment: One step closer to Moldies (Score 3, Interesting) 34

"a human corporation called ISDN retaliates against the boppers by infecting them with a genetically modified organism called chipmold. The artificial disease succeeds in killing off the boppers, but when it infects the boppers' outer coating, a kind of smart plastic known as flickercladding, it creates a new race of intelligent symbiotes known as moldies " - from Rucy Rucker's Ware Tetrology series ( Notably, this set of three books was released free by the author (

+ - Plant temperature perception imaged using open source microscopy software

Submitted by GAATTC
GAATTC (870216) writes "How plants sense temperature is not well understood. An automated microscopy system controlled by Micro-Manager open source microscope automation software has been used to capture the dynamics of plant high temperature gene expression responses. A surprising finding is that waves of gene expression sweep down the roots as they grow after exposure to high temperatures."

Comment: Complexity - Obamacare vs Obama Campaign (Score 1) 501

by GAATTC (#45125377) Attached to: Lessons From the Fiasco
When Obama was re-elected there was a whole string of articles in the press (and associated Slashdot discussions) of how good the technical team who built his campaign infrastructure was. I keep thinking that it is a shame that he did/could not hire the same people to make the health care marketplace work well. It's nearly as if the same contractors who produced ORCA for Mitt Romney got hired to bring about this fiasco. So educate me - is the health care marketplace system much more complicated than the election system? And if not was there a compelling reason to go with large contractors vs. the smart guys from the election team with a demonstrated track record?

Comment: And yet people worry about GMO crops (Score 1) 245

by GAATTC (#43453873) Attached to: Giant Snails Invade Florida
It always amazes me that people worry so much about moving one or two genes around in plants in a thought out and carefully controlled manner yet they hardly worry about the introduction of whole functional genomes (i.e. invasive species) into ecosystems. Given the clear and deleterious impacts of introduced species (as opposed to those for GMOs which are debatable at best) you would think there would be large organizations of anti-introduced genome activists.

Comment: Re:Consultant ~= prostitute with none of the benef (Score 2) 207

by GAATTC (#42514465) Attached to: How to Become an IT Expert Companies Seek Out and Pay Well (Video)
Trust me - benefits cost a lot more than $300 a month. The benefits that I pay for my $35k entry level employee add up to about $14k per year on top of the salary - and about half of that scales linearly with salary. Benefits include retirement (10% of salary), health insurance (>$300 a month even for an individual if you're providing decent insurance), contributions to social security and medicare, disability insurance, life insurance, unemployment insurance, and a couple of others that I am sure I'm forgetting right now. While you're obviously correct that you can buy 'benefit packages', the value of the benefits at a company that treats it's workers (even the entry level ones) well is significant. No doubt you can include these costs in consulting fees, but $300 a month it is not.

Comment: Re:Wrong problem (Score 1) 239

by GAATTC (#38245730) Attached to: Genome Researchers Have Too Much Data
Completely true - I did not mean to make light of the storage issues that come along with big genomic data sets. The point was more that storage issues are easier to address (you can for the most part throw $$ at these issues until you get to really big data sets) than the challenges of analyzing the data which cannot necessarily be solved with brute force approaches.

Comment: Re:Wrong problem (Score 2) 239

by GAATTC (#38245672) Attached to: Genome Researchers Have Too Much Data
We're trying to do a good job with the annotation which includes manually curating the gene families we are interested in, characterize splicing isoforms, and we're looking for genes/gene families that may be expanded or unique and provide us with insights into the evolution of the unique morphological structures we study in our critter.

Comment: Re:Wrong problem (Score 5, Informative) 239

by GAATTC (#38242050) Attached to: Genome Researchers Have Too Much Data
Nope - the bottleneck is largely analysis. While the volume of the data is sometimes annoying in terms of not being able to attach whole data files to emails (19GB for a single 100bp flow cell lane from a HiSeq2000) it is not an intellectually hard problem to solve and it really doesn't contribute significantly to the cost of doing these experiments (compared to people's salaries). The intellectually hard problem has nothing to do with data storage. As the article states "The result is that the ability to determine DNA sequences is starting to outrun the ability of researchers to store, transmit and especially to analyze the data.". We just finished up generating and annotating a de novo transcriptome (sequences of all of the expressed genes in an organism without a reference genome). Sequencing took 5 days and cost ~$1600. Analysis is going on 4 months and has taken at least one man year at this point and there is still plenty of analysis to go.

Comment: Military technical skills translate very well n=1 (Score 5, Informative) 212

by GAATTC (#38013802) Attached to: With Troop Drawdown, IT Looks To Hire More Vets
In our Biology department we have a high end confocal microscope. This is a very expensive, sophisticated and complicated microscope with complex optical, mechanical, and control systems. The technician who services it and keeps it running was a sonar technician in a submarine for many years before he got a job working on microscopes. He is very good - logical, careful, and responsible. Obviously this is a small sample size but if his training in the navy has anything to do with his performance in his current job then this is a nice example of military training actually translating well into a civilian technology position.

Money is its own reward.