What is your current role? Tell us a bit about your line of research.

I am an Assistant Professor of Avian Genomics at Texas A&M University, USA. My research is guided by my personal belief of using science for the greater good. The research in our lab focuses on fundamental biological phenomena that also have relevance for society (animal agriculture, conservation, disease). We use a mix of experimental work, genomics approaches, and bioinformatics in our work. Current major focus areas are genome architecture of chicken, and microbiota assembly and regulation in birds. 

What are you excited about in science communication?

I remember the role of great science books and articles in inspiring me to become a scientist, and I am most excited about helping others find and love science as I do. But today, science communication has an important role to play in ensuring a stable and sane society. The COVID crisis has exposed the chasm that exists between scientists and the public’s understanding of even the most basic scientific facts. I am motivated by the challenge of working harder to help close the gap. 

Why did you choose to participate in the ASAPbio Fellows program?

I have found some of the most exciting new discoveries in preprints, but I have also run into academics who dismiss preprints. I have seen enough preprints that went on to get published that I am certain that preprints make science communication and dissemination stronger, and doesn’t undermine confidence in it. I chose to participate in the ASAPbio Fellows program to get the pulse on how people at different institutions and career stages perceive preprints, and what the challenges are to wider acceptance of preprints. I hope to take away some strategies on improve current peer review and publishing practices. 

Ask me about… 

Birds. I am a lifelong birder (a.k.a birdwatcher), and birds drove my initial interest in science. Now as a professional avian geneticist, I don’t need to make excuses to go out and watch birds.