I’ve been looking at doing an analysis with some protein subfamily sequence logos, using Eric Beitz’s texshade. While it’s a little strange that it does the actual analysis part (rather than just the rendering) using LaTeX, it’s the only implementation of the method I know of, and it beats reimplementing it from the paper.
It happens all to often that published bioinformatics tools cease to be updated or even disappear from the Web not long after the peer-review publication is released. Kudos to Eric for not abandoning his software.
I’ve always found it interesting how people describe their jobs, particularly scientists. Sometimes I find the “inevitable dinner party question” (“So, what do you do?”) difficult. The answer typically requires knowing the background of the inquirer … if your job description is too technical, it tends to freak people out, and can often cause the evenings conversation to disintegrate into too much science-talk (yes, sometimes it’s possible to have too much science-talk). The safer option, giving a simplified very high-level job description geared toward lay-people, is usually unsatisfying and can even sound a bit insulting if you are unknowingly speaking to someone with experience in your field.
Overall, I think it’s really good practice to be able to describe your job (or “role”, or “work”) as a scientist at many different levels. It certainly helps me understand “what I do”, and can really assist in having the right words on-hand when writing grants, fellowship applications, abstracts and maybe even (gasp) press-releases, each that could be aimed at widely differing audiences.
What got me thinking so philosophically this morning ? A tongue-in-cheek quote I noticed on a lab head’s page describing his role in the research group:
Gets the big pay check, sits around waiting for results, drinks coffee, helps write papers and tells people to work harder.
I’m sure he does a little more than that … but I suspect there’s also a bit of refreshing honesty in that description. Probably every part is true, except the “sits around waiting” part. I wouldn’t try using it to describe your role on a grant application though 🙂