Defining Genetic Modification. Genetics Otago Aug 05

Peter K. Dearden I have been doing a lot of travelling recently, and have become increasingly perplexed by the term ‘electronic device’ and what to do with them on planes. Some say turn off all your devices; does that mean heart pace makers, insulin pumps, and calculator watches? Some say you can have small ones [...]

Sex and inbreeding (in bees). Genetics Otago Jun 24

Peter K Dearden Tomorrow I am speaking at the National Bee Keepers Association conference in Whanganui and thought I might write a bit about what we have been doing to help me get things clear. Much of my research work is on bees; trying to learn how they work, trying to find new ways to [...]

Two legs better than four Genetics Otago May 13

Peter K. Dearden Perspective is an important thing in understanding science. I, like everyone else on earth should, have an interest in the evolution of our species. I am struck by the conundrum that we seem very different from our nearest relatives, yet genetically we are very similar. I bet a lot of that is [...]

Cheesecake makes you fat, but correlation is not causation Genetics Otago Mar 26

Julia Horsfield I was one of the happy people rejoicing in new gastronomic possibilities after hearing that eating saturated fats may not cause heart disease after all. Yay! I never could bring myself to opt for that trim latte. Maybe I can even ditch the Olivani in favour of butter. But, as my nutritional friends [...]

Meeting your heroes. Genetics Otago Mar 12

They* say that you shouldn’t meet your heroes. Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet one of mine, Professor Lord Robert Winston, as he came to visit Genetics Otago for the day. Prof. Winston, as well as being a pioneer in science communication, is also a key figure in genetics, being part of the team [...]

Why you should care about plasticity. Genetics Otago Feb 26

Peter K. Dearden In my last post I mentioned I was interested in how you get changes in the shape of an animal without a change in genetics. This process is, of course, important for animals like bees, but it is also important in our own biology. In recent years evidence has been building that [...]

Why I study Bees. Genetics Otago Jan 13

Peter K. Dearden I was recently asked why I work on honeybees, especially given my growing intolerance to bee stings. There are lots of easy answers to this questions, including how cool they are, how important they are, how remarkable their biology is etc etc, but when it comes down to it, there is a [...]

Is your educational achievement determined by your genes? Genetics Otago Jan 01

Peter K. Dearden I am loath to write this post, not only because it is New Year’s Day and I am in Melbourne, but also because the subject matter touches some raw nerves. The problem is I have been increasingly angry at the way genetics is beginning to be used to inform policy in education. [...]

Working out what makes us human. Genetics Otago Dec 20

Peter K. Dearden. One key question in biology is what makes us different as a species. Humans have a remarkable set of adaptations that distinguish us from even our closest living relatives. We walk upright, we have larger brains, we use language, and we are consummate tool-makers and users. From the point of view of [...]

AgResearch, Invermay and Genetics Genetics Otago Nov 26

Peter K. Dearden The opinions below are my own, and not necessarily those of the University of Otago, my employer. You may be aware that AgResearch has decided to move its genetics/genomics team from Invermay near Dunedin, to Lincoln. This move has excited a great deal of attention in the Otago press, and some consternation around [...]

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