Some things that happened last year (in pictures and links)

Some things happened in 2015. For one thing, I defended my PhD on the 18th of December. I’m still waiting for some paperwork so I can get a nice diploma, but dear reader, for most intents and purposes, I’m a doctor of genetics! How did that happen? Here is a short chronicle of the year in mobile phone pictures. Enjoy!

In May I went to the conference that is either called the IBANGS meeting or the GBB; I’m not sure which is the proper name, actually. Regardless, it is the meeting of the International Behavior and Neural Genetics Society, and last year it took place in Uppsala. One must take the opportunity when the meeting is in Sweden. I had a poster about some of our work on behavioural genomics under chicken domestication (Johnsson et al. 2016) and also featured on a couple of posters about dog behaviour.

I’ve mostly been to genetics and evolution centric conferences before, so themes and perspectives were a bit new to me. There was quite a bit of neural circuitry and addiction studies, but also a big chunk of genomics-type research. I was surprised by the relative lack of quantitative genetics. I had expected more of that, particularly from the human side. Maybe psychiatric geneticists go to other conferences.

Summer and time to write my dissertation. In fact, since the dissertation was a compilation thesis under the Swedish system, it consisted of a bunch of papers stapled together with a summary (”kappa”, which think comes from the Swedish word for overcoat, not from the Greek letter). Since the papers were either published or quite close to being submitted at this time, most of the writing actually lay behind me. Anyway, I decided to go to some place without distractions for a few days to write. I went to Östersund, where I don’t know anyone, had nothing else to do, and wrote the draft while sitting on cafés and in the candle-lit (!) hotel dining room.

And in August: ESEB! The European Society for Evolutionary Biology meeting took place in Lausanne. That picture with all the greenery, by the way, it’s from the campus!

I gave a talk about our work with the Kauai chicken population (Gering et al. 2015, and unpublished stuff). I remember looking at the list of symposia early in the year and thinking that they looked less interesting than previous years … I don’t remember why, though, and it turns out that I was all wrong, and ended up overwhelmed with talks to go to. As usual, and as it should be. Also: my travel laptop died on me (of course!) and I took this picture with a trash can. Good times.

Speaking of silly selfies: here is me in the chicken house and in the lab. The hammer is the actual RNA isolation hammer; we’ve found that for a lot of frozen tissues, dipping the piece in liquid nitrogen, putting it in a bag and hitting it with a hammer is a good  way to quickly disrupt it before putting it into a homogenizer. The pink tube contains Tri (acid phenol) extraction for RNA isolation. It’s one of the most photogenic steps (one of the few where what’s in the tube isn’t just a colourless liquid).

Winter and time to print and defend the dissertation. Alexander Hultberg made the pretty chicken on the cover. Apparently I took two photos from my defence: one of the opponent, Dirk-Jan de Koning, explaining QTL mapping, and one of his summary slide.

I got a hat. The middle picture shows Dominic Wright giving a speech. I felt very touched.

Finally, Linköping University in winter, and a picture of my sister’s dog, because you know: dog.

I may eventually get back to regular posts about science, or not. In the meantime, here are links to new papers that came out in 2015 (or early 2016) and I had something to do with. Apparently, this was also a year when a lot of stuff went from pipeline into print.

Johnsson M, Williams MJ, Jensen P, Wright D. (2016) Genetical Genomics of Behavior: A novel chicken genomic model for anxiety behavior. Genetics.

Johnsson M, Jonsson KB, Andersson L, Jensen P, Wright D. (2016) Quantitative Trait Locus and Genetical Genomics Analysis Identifies Putatively Causal Genes for Fecundity and Brooding in the Chicken. G3.

Fallahsharoudi A, de Kock N, Johnsson M, Ubhayasekera SJ, Bergquist J, Wright D, Jensen P. (2015) Domestication Effects on Stress Induced Steroid Secretion and Adrenal Gene Expression in Chickens. Scientific reports.

Johnsson M, Jonsson KB, Andersson L, Jensen P, Wright D. (2015) Genetic Regulation of Bone Metabolism in the Chicken: Similarities and Differences to Mammalian Systems. PLoS Genetics.

Persson, M. E., Roth, L. S., Johnsson, M., Wright, D., & Jensen, P. (2015). Human‐directed social behaviour in dogs shows significant heritability. Genes, Brain and Behavior.

The paper on the genetics of open field behaviour made the rounds a bit in the media, which was fun. I’m a bit surprised to say that an article in The Daily Mail had the most interesting take … There was also a Nature News feature from collaborators’ field trip to Kauai in the fall, complete with a looping video of my supervisor Dom Wright and collaborator Eben Gering trying to catch a chicken. This is a must-see.

Richard Gray. Forget calling someone a chicken! Farm birds have BRAVERY genes that make them less anxious than their wild cousins The Daily Mail.

Ewen Callaway. When chickens go wild. Nature News.