Wake me up, am I dreaming?
I arrived in Durham, North Carolina, at The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) to begin the first of two fellowships. With much ado in our society about collaborations and interdisciplinary research — NESCent is a place where it really happens.
Who is here?
The Center attracts U. S. and international scientists for cross-disciplinary research in evolution. Professors on sabbatical, post doctoral researchers, graduate students, and a few stray outliers like me have offices in the historic area next to Duke University. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Center encourages projects that address “significant, emerging, or novel questions in evolutionary science”.
What am I doing at NESCent?
My work is based on science in the emerging category. The new sequencing method for high quality data from archaic genomes is key information for my project. I’ll be working with scientists at NESCent, too. I’m curious to find what changes we see when comparing Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes with DNA from you and me. Take a look at the development of my projects Gene Stories and Visions of Neanderkin.
Part scholarly fellow, part artist in residence
I asked Craig McClain, marine biologist and Assistant Director of Science, what do I call the fellowship I received? He said “scholarly fellow” and that most consider the opportunity a retreat to do some of their best research. For a non-academic like me, I’ll have access to scientific literature, a chance to meet scientists, and the best part — concentrate on new work.
How did I get here?
Short version is I submitted two proposals, both were approved, then drove 1200 miles from Minneapolis to Durham. The longer, how-did-I-get-here version, began seven years ago with curiosity about science, discovery of genetics, which drove an obsession to write draw and talk about the genomics revolution. More on this later but meanwhile… don’t wake me up for surely this is a dream.
About the image shown above
Delicate white flowers on cherry trees illuminated by blue sky and the red brick of the Old Mill buildings in Durham, North Carolina. Located near the east campus of Duke University and home to the offices of NESCent, the long red buildings were built in the 1850s as tobacco warehouses.