Thursday, 31 May 2012

Dance Dance DNA

Often as part of research grant applications, we include an “outreach component”, where we try to communicate scientific research to the broader public. Savvy readers of this blog may realize that this blog that it is itself an attempt at “outreach”. I was recently sorting through files of old photos, and I came across these from the most fun outreach activity that I’ve participated in. Brian Palenik at Scripps Institute of Oceanography and myself wrote a US National Science Foundation Grant to study the genomes of marine photosynthetic cyanobacteria that live in coastal waters and how they differ from those that live in the open ocean, and this generated some cool data showing that coastal strains may be adapted to higher concentrations of toxic metals like copper (Palenik et al, 2006) and we developed novel approaches to look at the whole communities of cyanobacteria living in coastal environments (Palenik et al., 2009).
But probably the actual reason we got the funding for this research was the exciting outreach component we included in this project- organizing an exhibition of marine genomics for the Birch Aquarium in San Diego. It was certainly an interesting experience for Brian and myself to work together with the aquarium exhibition staff. These photos show pictures from that exhibition “Sea of Genes” that ran at the aquarium for more than two years. My favourite part of the exhibition was the Dance Dance Revolution machine which was set up so that you could dance out the DNA genetic code (GATC) and see the amino acid sequence of the protein encoded by your dance moves. They called this the Codon Hoedown. Sadly, despite years of wasted swing dance classes, I remain completely uncoordinated, and I can honestly say that I suck at Dance Dance Revolution, which you can probably guess from the photos.

Trying to dance GATC in a specific order is harder than it looks
Yes, back in those days I was not only unco, but I also had a goatee
A genome circle archway

go right ahead and dive into the Sea of Genes

Brian doing his impersonation of Indiana Jones

1 comment:

  1. great photos. Do you think that we would be allowed to have the genome arch as an entry into our lab?