Hello World.

This blog is a forum for me (Mark Wilson, a Genetics Professor at Humboldt State University, in California USA) and my students (undergraduate Biology majors) to engage with others on topics in genetics, including GMOs, synthetic biology, cloning, stem cells, DNA fingerprinting, gene testing and genetic privacy, gene therapy, genetic enhancement, eugenics, and many others. We are writing for a target audience of informed engaged people who aren’t necessarily biologists. Many of our posts will focus on fact-checking and analysis of claims – for example, about the health and safety of GMOs, or the current state of genetic technologies. Others will focus on epistemology in science – how we know what we know – which of course is central to fact-checking.

The process of writing requires us to rigorously structure our thought, and the acts of writing, reviewing and revising contribute greatly to our critical analysis skills. These are our main goals in writing this blog.  It has also become increasingly clear that scientists need to engage our larger communities to help non-scientists understand issues that affect them. By sharing our writing and by engaging with others, we can contribute to this larger dialog.

About me: My research is focused on using genetic approaches to understand microbial communities in natural environments. My main efforts in recent years have been on an NSF-funded Microbial Observatory at Lassen Volcanic National Park ( http://bslmo.research.pdx.edu/BSL_MO_Web/The_BSL_MO.html ), a project that we also call “Life in Boiling Acid”.  I’ve also been working with undergraduates to assemble and annotate the genomes of novel Archaea isolated from Boiling Springs Lake, and on some laboratory-course-based projects looking at microbial communities on leaf surfaces.  I greatly enjoy teaching, and in recent years have adopted approaches to increase student engagement and reflect evidence-based teaching strategies.  I’m a dog person.


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