July 07, 2008

Reasons to Be Cheerful: DNA, Expeditions and Mycological Society Meeting

It's the little things in life sometimes that bring the greatest pleasures... at least when one revels in being a geek.

The first thing I need to do today is to clean up some DNA I have waiting in the freezer. Among them are the rDNA sequences from Diaperis maculata. Once I've cleaned the DNA I'll be able to load it onto a plate and will get the sequences back and be able to add them to my alignments. I'll know a tiny bit more about the evolution of fungus-associated Coleoptera. This is enough to make me look forward to a Monday. It's the little things... and D. maculata is only 5-6 mm long. That qualifies as "little."

I also have to start work on securing permits for the collecting expedition in September. Two months should be enough lead time, hypothetically, but one never knows with bureaucracies. We just need a couple of good sites to work at, though. I'll probably put feelers out on more than we'll actually use. That way if the process gets too long and we get turned down for a couple of sites at the last minute, we'll still have a couple of back-ups. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Speaking of science-related travel, it's only a month until I hit the road for Penn State and the annual Mycological Society of America meeting. It's the largest gathering of professional and amateur mycologists in the nation and promises to be a great time. I'm looking forward to the whole program, but I have to admit that I'm particularly tickled by the opportunity to collect in Pennsylvania, a state in which I've never forayed before. I'm even hauling my industrial-strength dehydrator on the trip so that folks can preserve specimens. The abstracts look like there will be some very interesting talks on fungal evolution and informatics tools. Folks from my lab are doing four of the presentations, I think. I'm not one of them yet (I've just started gathering data!) There are also a couple of talks by David Maddison that look like they'll be particularly interesting stuff. Days of full immersion... I can hardly wait.

Are any readers planning to attend MSA this year? If so, I'd love to meet up for a drink or two.

If you're new to this stuff and this is the first you're hearing about it and you'd like to attend, you can still register for the meeting. Even if you're a novice, you couldn't ask for a better opportunity to learn about fungi. Please consider joining us! If you're a newbie and can make it in time for the foray on August 10, I'd be more than happy to hang out with you in the field and help you get better acquainted with the various chitinous life-forms you'll encounter. I'd consider it a privilege to do so, in fact.

Today, and the next couple of months, are going to be great. Wonder-Geek Powers Activate!

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