James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

December 18, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — James @ 4:53 pm

Over the last couple of years my posts here have really dropped off. It hasn’t been because I ran out of material or lost interest in blogging but simply because more and more of my time and energy have been consumed by a single goal… graduating.

So it gives me great pleasure to report that, as of December 14th (last Friday), I have reached that goal.


Behold! The lollipop handed to every newly minted Berkeley PhD when their thesis is accepted.

What was my thesis about you ask? Well I still don’t have a good elevator speech, so let me simply say that the first part of my thesis has to do with how plant genomes change over time and the second part demonstrated a new method for learning the function of pieces of DNA which don’t code for proteins but instead determine where and when neighboring genes will be turned on or off.

So what’s next? This whole site traces its origins back to travel posts I put up to let friends and family know how I was doing as I interviewed as various graduate schools. So I suppose there would be a fair bit of symmetry to shutting it down as I leave grad school, but I don’t want to do that. Now that I’m finished with my PhD, I’m looking forward to rediscovering the things I used to do for fun, and I remember writing updates here used to be a lot of fun.

On a more practical level, what comes next for me is a 2000 mile drive from California to the midwest (with all my worldly possessions packed into the back of my car) to visit family for the holidays. I am suddenly very conscious of the fact I haven’t driven on snow in more than four years. After that it’ll be onward to a post-doc.

If you’ve left an unanswered comment in the last six months or so and are still interested in me getting back to you, let me know.

For now… it is good to be back.



  1. Congrats! Is your thesis published online? Would be nice to read during the christmas holiday 🙂

    Comment by EJ — December 19, 2012 @ 12:28 am

  2. Thanks EJ! My thesis is going to be available online through ProQuest but I think it is still being processed at the moment. I’ll definitely throw up another post when I get the notification that it is up online.

    Comment by James — December 19, 2012 @ 12:32 am

  3. Congrats. Hope you find life outside the University to be rewarding and full of challenges to be conquered. And I hope you are able to resume your blogging — always enjoyed reading it.

    Comment by Kurt Kiesling — December 20, 2012 @ 8:43 am

  4. Thank you Kurt. I am also really hoping to I can get back in the habit of updating, I’ve missed it. -J

    Comment by James — December 20, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

  5. The transition from graduate studies to “the real world” is next on your agenda. I recall when I was interviewing after getting my Chemical Engineering degree, that I gravitated towards the academic areas of engineering when considering job offers. After a few years, I realized that the jobs that I had originally considered to be suitable for those in the bottom half of a graduating class, were often the ones with the most potential, and rewarding. So if I might suggest a blogging topic — transitioning to the real world.

    Comment by Kurt Kiesling — December 22, 2012 @ 6:23 am

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