Resolutions and Predictions

Last January I made a list of (science) new year resolutions and made some predictions for the coming year. Thought I’d have a look back…

2009 Resolutions
* Read more. I used to read at least a paper a day during my PhD. Some PDF counting last year showed me I had averaged 3 per week over the last 10 years. I think I could get back to 1 per day with a bit of determination. I must concentrate the effort a little bit more though, no more reading up on snail biogeography just because I’ve found a cool one at the beach.
I’ve read slightly less papers, but many more academic blogs. Not yet sure what I think to this strategy, it may fall into the “snail biogeography” category (above), but on the other hand I have learned a lot, some of it even related to my research areas.

* Sort out my electronic lab book system
Success I think. My ELN is running very well. I have implemented it with students, mostly successful. I’m very pleased with the whole ELN thing.

* Add more to Wikipedia, especially species, and get into the habit of taking and posting images to Wikimedia.
I’m starting to get addicted to Wikipedia, and I’ve even suggested starting a Biology Reviews course for undergrads based on writing a Wikipedia page.

* Reread the Origin of Species (its been too many years)
Fail. I read about half of it over Christmas but then holiday ended and I stopped having any book time. Really enjoyed the first half though.

* Celebrate Darwin year!
Yes indeed

Resolutions for 2010

  1. Take 1 day per week purely for science (rather than bureaucracy)
  2. Teach myself some Second Generation Sequencing informatics
  3. Sequence my first genome
  4. Blog more (I have moved all the small “posts” to FriendFeed this year, but that is still no excuse)

2009 Predictions
Stuff that didn’t happen
* Creationists will exploit PR better than scientists to get their stories into mainstream newspapers and onto TV and we will see a new telegenic and ‘reasonable’ face of evolution-bashing.
I am very glad to say that this was wrong. A good year for evolution on TV.

Stuff that I didn’t notice happen and thankfully probably didn’t
* Some apparently maladaptive (to the casual public observer) part of the human body or disease susceptibility will be touted as a demonstration that evolution does not work.
* A famous, possibly well-meaning, UK politician will advocate ‘teaching the controversy’ (i.e. creationism alongside evolution in science lessons).
* Some evolutionary biologist you have actually heard of with a new paper disagreeing with some minutiae of evolutionary biology (maybe in some aspect of population genetics) will be put forward as a critic of evolution on a really slow news day.
* Steve Jones ‘evolution has stopped’ will resurface yet again and get more air time and column inches than all evolutionary biology research published in 2009 put together

Stuff that was almost right
* The Pope will give a speech extolling the power and vision of God in bringing his laws of evolution by natural selection into Darwin’s stubborn mind. I hope he remembers to mention Wallace too!
Close. “The Vatican has admitted that Charles Darwin was on the right track when he claimed that Man descended from apes. A leading official declared yesterday that Darwin’s theory of evolution was compatible with Christian faith, and could even be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. “In fact, what we mean by evolution is the world as created by God,” said Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture.” The Times, Feb 11 2009

Predictions for 2010

  1. New sequencing technologies will launch and emphasize why we should be calling 454/Illumina second (not ‘next’) generation sequencing.
  2. BBC reporters will continue to call DNA sequencing “mapping” in all possible situations until, finally, biologists agree to change their terms and alter all the textbooks
  3. Large scale sequencing and evolutionary analysis of flu will (continue to) make a really powerful case for evolution to the public, and there will be an evolution-centric TV documentary on flu

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