I am a sucker for freebies = I was a graduate student once. There is no better metaphor for a shonky organisation than distributing hundreds of branded pens . . . which don't work. But I couldn't justify driving a round-trip of 80 kilocarbons to pick up more crappy pens. I therefore arranged a date with A3 the bright young fella who didn't get my job - wasn't even short-listed - when I retired from one of the SETU parents in October 2o2o. We had a couple of zoom calls at that time to give him the inside dope because he was part of the Irish Binfo community and post-doc in the binf.lab of A2 an old pal and one time employee. A3 is like my younger self, except smarter and with significantly more 'finish' = able to get data into shape, written up and published.Hamilton in 1843, neither of us had chalk in our pockets, so we couldn't write down any deep thoughts on the abutments of the several bridges under which we passed. I learned an remarkable amount about the Tara Oceans Project and the distribution of deep-sea marine amphipods. Tara has similar aspirations to Craig Venter's Sorcerer Project which documented a marine sampling of microbial DNA - so much local diversity despite the stirring of oceanic currents. YIL that dogfish Squalus acanthias, several of which I dissected at school because it was so abundant in the by-catch of the 1960s, is on a branch of the tree of sharks which a) separated from other elasmobranchs 200 mya b) hasn't a sequenced genome to show for itself. The effort to obtain DNA sequence data is patchy and particular:
We also had a wide ranging discussion about how science works, and how we as individuals in that peculiar world found our niche and made contributions towards understanding the ticking of the natural world. Sometimes it is more productive to keep the show on the road: teaching, maintaining, mentoring rather than being obnoxiously ambitious, secretive and careless of the feelings of others. I had a really great time teaching in The Institute for the last 8 years of my working life - every Monday morning I put on my happy face for Bio 101 labs - but I'm really glad I didn't start into that mill when I was A3's age. A combination of [lucky but make you own luck] circumstances let me be a fly on the wall when extraordinary science was being done and that experience made me a better teacher and my classes a lot more interesting - for everyone.