This past weekend, I accepted an offer to join UC Davis as an
Associate Professor of Genetics in the Department of Population
Health and Reproduction, in
the School of Veterinary Medicine. The appointment is
still pending tenure review, but I expect to join Davis whether or not
they give me tenure (sshh! don't tell them!)
I am very sad to be leaving many good friends and colleagues in
Michigan, but the personal and professional opportunities available at
UC Davis are simply outstanding; we decided as a family that Davis was
I'm sure you must all have lots of questions. So here's a handy list
Wait, tenure review? Didn't you have tenure at MSU?!
VetMed... wait, what?
Really? You're going to leave it there?
Turns out veterinary animals have genomes, too! And PHR and VetMed
are extremely broad in their research programs -- they have great
people in ecology, evolution, microbiology, and many other fields.
UC Davis overall is truly excellent, but I am really enthusiastic
about joining VetMed specifically. There are several other recent
faculty hires that I'm thrilled about, and the existing faculty are
just outstanding; I expect Davis VetMed to offer a wonderful and
fertile ground for the growth of my research program.
OK, seriously, why did they even interview you, much less hire you?
Well, I agree that my fit for the position description as posted is not quite perfect. So
I asked the same question! Among other things, several members of
the hiring committee said that they really liked my education
efforts. Without a strong research program, they would probably
not have looked seriously at my application; but, once they did,
they said that they really liked the mix of research and education
Just as a reminder, I've made all of my application materials
What talk did you give? Your soil metagenomics talk?! How'd that go?
My talk is posted on Slideshare so you can see for
yourself -- it was almost entirely about the work that my student
Dr. Likit Preeyanon did on Marek's Disease resistance in chicken.
Yeah, I work on that stuff, too :).
Did you apply for any other jobs?
Yep. I applied for about six academic positions, including
positions in Big Data, mol bio/ecology/evolution/bioinformatics,
and microbiology. Got one interview, and one job offer. shrug
Are you going to continue doing ... whatever it is you do?
Yep. And more!
Did Jonathan Eisen have anything to do with this?
Jonathan was one of my references, but AFAIK he was uninvolved in
the decision past that. Needless to say, however, the fact that UC
Davis is supportive of his social media and open access efforts was
a strong positive at Davis (although MSU is no slouch there either).
We do hope his open access policies extend to his backyard pool.
When are you going!?
TBD. Sometime in early 2015, I think.
Will you be hiring?
Yeppers. More on that down the road.
Do you even like granola?
I do! Note that I went to Reed and Caltech for undergrad and grad
school respectively, so I think Davis is a good average between the
two -- and not just geographically :).
How did you get hired without a passel of Cell/Nature/Science papers?
I have a few high profile papers, most notably a bunch o' PNAS
papers. But my publication record was never at any point brought up
by anyone, so I don't know what they thought of it.
It was your klout score, wasn't it! That's why they hired you!
Honestly, as far as I can tell they were largely unaware of my
social media and open science interests. The search committee
seemed interested in it over dinner, though.
What else makes you excited about Davis?
The new Big Data initiative at Davis.
The Davis Genome Center.
The opportunities for interactions with faculty from the CS, Ag,
Microbiology, and Developmental Biology parts of campus.
The proximity to the Bay Area, the JGI,
UC Berkeley and BIDS, Stanford, Silicon
Valley, and of course the Perlstein Lab.
The proximity to Big Sur, a.k.a. "the most beautiful area in the
Do you have any plans to scale up (or back) your education and
Funny you should ask! Yes, I do plan to scale up my training efforts
significantly! More on that once I figure out where my office will be,
how to get paid, and where all the campus coffee shops are.
Do you plan to change the name of your lab?
Well, right now it's called the Lab of Genomics, Evolution, and
Development (GED), which has become
increasingly inaccurate :). I'm think of naming it the Lab for
Data Intensive Biology (DIB). Other suggestions welcome; given my
inability to focus, the Lab of Life, the Universe, and Everything
might work just as well...
How do you feel about losing your short e-mail address? It doesn't
get much shorter than 'firstname.lastname@example.org'!
Hopefully I can get email@example.com. That will
more than make up for it.
The City of Davis just received a new armored vehicle. Coincidence?