CBC on the lack of funding for Genome Canada.

Last night on CBC, the National gave a report on the lack of funds for Genome Canada in the new budget by the Conservative government. My colleague Paul Hebert, who is the head of the massive international DNA barcoding project, was featured. This is just one of many areas in which Canada is a world leader but for which a lack of Genome Canada support may mean a huge negative impact.

Critics question lack of new funding for Genome Canada

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Dr. Michael Majerus (1954 – 2009)

It is with deep regret that I follow Nick Matzke in announcing that Dr. Michael Majerus, an expert on industrial melanism and champion of the peppered moth as a prominent example of natural selection in the wild, has passed away after a short illness.

Dr. Majerus was a professor at Cambridge, and was a dedicated researcher and teacher. I did not know him personally, but I did have an opportunity to interact with him recently after inviting him to write an article on the peppered moth for Evolution: Education and Outreach. My experience was that he was very patient and cared greatly about getting the details right — indeed, the paper describes some of his own very careful research to counter critiques of the peppered moth example. I invite everyone to see the paper, which is a testament to Dr. Majerus’s dedication to excellent research and teaching.

He will be missed.

So what’s new?

I must offer an apology for the delay in adding new posts. I have been back from Churchill for some time now, but am still not caught up. With the fall semester approaching, papers to finish, lectures to prepare, and grants to write, I am pretty much swamped these days. But that does not mean I have abandoned Genomicron! For now, however, the most I can offer is a short summary of what’s new since I last posted.

1) I found out that the subarctic is too hot. It was 30C (86F) in Churchill for several days, when the normal temperature for July is only about 18C (64F). Apparently it rained and cooled down after I left, but it’s something else to be sitting in polar bear country complaining about the heat.

2) We moved to the New Science Complex at the University of Guelph, and are getting settled in nicely.

3) Apparently Homo habilis and H. erectus may have cohabitated for some time. Ok. I guess to the media and anti-evolutionists this is big news, but the fact that human (or any) evolution is not simple or linear is no shock to those of us who actually study the topic. In fact, I just authored a paper (Evolution: Education and Outreach, in press) about how the fact, theory, and path of evolution are different issues and that arguments about theory or path do not bear on fact.

4) I was invited to become a “featured writer” at Scientific Blogging. It would not replace Genomicron but could be a nice venue for more detailed posts. Sounds interesting, though obviously finding the time is an issue. Anyone have thoughts on this?

5) While I have been busy, Genomicron had its 10,000th unique visitor. No alarms sounded and no balloons dropped from the ceiling, but I did smile when I noticed. So thanks everybody.

Finally, here for your enjoyment is one of my favourite pictures from the trip north.