Group research focus
Does a lack of focus count? I came to biology by way of statistics, and I came to statistics by way of math. The footprints of that trajectory are visible throughout my research program and suggest the types of problems that my group likes to take on. Biology motivates all of what we study, but not all of the research projects wind up biological: sometimes we chase the abstract quantitative questions toward a deeper understanding. I'm primarily a geneticist who wonders how things are (i.e. genome to phenome) and how things came to be (i.e. evolution). But I'm easily distracted! I've supervised biologists, mathematicians, statisticians and computer scientists...and sometimes we all go down the rabbit hole together.
Teaching and research achievements
I’m happiest when helping others to achieve their goals, and my most noteworthy achievements are probably in that space. I take great joy, and maybe a little pride, in the successes of my former students and postdocs.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Because of my interdisciplinary focus, I tend to cover material that most of the class finds uncomfortable most of the time. At my previous institution, I taught a course in bioinformatics that drew graduate students from fifteen different programs, and each fall I would delight as they began to speak a common language. At the extreme, I once had the privilege of teaching first-year statistics to 65 students who were certain that they hated statistics. That really is a privilege: there is nothing so rewarding as showing students the beauty and applicability of a subject that they might otherwise revile. Twenty-odd years ago, that changed my life, because the subject I presumed to revile was biology!
What else do you have underway?
Having moved from the US less than three months ago, some settling in still remains. As in, a lot of settling in still remains! At home, that means helping my daughters with the transition to Australia and unpacking the 300+ boxes that just arrived by sea. At work, it means rebuilding my research group and establishing the new ANU-CSIRO Centre for Genomics, Metabolomics and Bioinformatics. I could use some help settling in, so if you're reading this and want to assist in any capacity, please email me. (That absolutely includes unpacking the boxes…).