Peter Dearden

Associate Professor Peter Dearden leads Southern Genes. He is the director of Genetics Otago. Peter was trained at Victoria University, PhD at Imperial College, University of London. He then worked in the Wellcome (now Gurdon) institute and the Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge; the Zoology department, University of Western Ontario; and returned to New Zealand and the University of Otago in 2002. Peter is a researcher in the Laboratory for Evolution and Development, and Otago site leader for the National Research Centre for Growth and Development. Peter's research is centered in Evolution and Development, Epigenetics and Developmental plasticity. Peter is on Twitter @peterkdearden

The Career Session, Part II - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 22, 2010

The Career Session, Part II. — SM Morgan Guest speakers: Julia Horsfield and Peter Dearden. — Associate Professor Peter Dearden, Principal Investigator of the Lab for Evolution & Development and Director of Genetics Otago was our second guest speaker for the ‘career path’ discussion at the Genetics Otago postgrad colloquia meeting in August; on a side note — we were intended to have three speakers, our third was called away at the last minute to deal with sick children and perhaps highlights perfectly some of the topics discussed. Associate Professor Peter Dearden Peter started his career at Victoria University, Wellington, and completed his honours degree in the same lab as Julia — albeit several years afterward. Andy Dowsett’s lab was responsible for teaching Peter all about molecular biology, but at the … Read More

The Career Session, Part I - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 21, 2010

The Career Session, Part I. — SM Morgan Guest speakers: Peter Dearden and Julia Horsfield. — Genetics Otago postgraduate students meet monthly for presentation of their work, discussion of skills, problem solving and development. This past month we had two guest speakers attend to talk about their career paths and to hand down some general advice and knowledge to the aspiring (or undecided) future academics in the audience. Dr Julia Horsfield Dr Julia Horsfield started off the session with a quick run-down of her path from an Honours degree at Victoria University, Wellington to her current appointment as a senior lecturer at Otago and the Principal Investigator of the Chromosome Structure and Development Group in the Department of Pathology, Dunedin School of Medicine. After her honours degree Julia travelled around the … Read More

This Week in Science History – 20/9/10 - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 20, 2010

Megan Leask, PhD Student, Laboratory for Evolution and Development Ötzi the Iceman discovered in his frozen glacial tomb Otzi the Iceman (Image: Wikimedia Commons) In 1991 on the 19th of September, Ötzi the Iceman, a wanderer who lived approximately 5300 years ago, was discovered in the Schnalstal Glacier in the Ötztal Alps, on the border between Austria and Italy. The nickname Ötzi comes from Ötztal (Ötz valley), the region in which he was discovered. He is Europe’s oldest natural human mummy, and has offered an unprecedented view of Chalcolithic (Copper Age) Europeans. The body and his belongings are displayed in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, northern Italy. A group of scientists have sequenced Otzi’s full genome and promised to reveal it in 2011. Read More

Pressing the Submit Button - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 18, 2010

Peter K. Dearden. Laboratory for Evolution and Development, Genetics Otago and the National Research Centre for Growth and Development, University of Otago One of the great and terrifying things about being a scientist is pressing the submit button; the button that sends your latest masterpiece, manuscript or grant, off to external review. This moment of joy and terror occurs after you have formatted the references, had everybody and their dog read the thing, and agonized about dimly remembered points of grammar. The figures are shiny and all have scale bars, the figure legends are … Read More

Interview with a Science Communicator – David Winter - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 15, 2010

This week I hunted down David Winter to answer some questions (though when I say ‘hunted down’ it implies perhaps a little more work than is fact — email: the ‘hunting tool’ of modern champions.) He also gave me a ‘portrait’ photo that I could use to show you all his lovely face: Do you see him in there? Just in the reflection of the sculpture?! Yeah, I couldn’t either, so here you go — David’s lovely face to make your day: David Winter is a PhD student at the University of Otago under the supervision of Professors Hamish Spencer and Graham … Read More

The Road To the Fire - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 14, 2010

SM Morgan. We talk a lot about people doing their PhD without considering that to a vast majority of people — the term means very little other than ‘something scary hard, a bit intelligent and a little impressive’. I remember being at high school, (a wee, but brilliant, girls’ boarding school in Havelock North) and being impressed with the science teachers come graduation — they had no fluff on the hoods of their gowns. Obviously a sign of vast intelligence and extra tertiary study above and beyond the average English teacher’s degree (I stereotype deliberately, bear with me!). Upon enquiry we discovered the lack of fluff or stripe was due to one holding a Masters degree, and an extra two years of research at varsity. Of course way back then, 2 years seemed a ridiculously long time — looking … Read More

Embryos are held together by Rubber Bands. - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 13, 2010

Peter K. Dearden. Laboratory for Evolution and Development, Genetics Otago and the National Research Centre for Growth and Development, University of Otago To explain complex and difficult things it is always useful, to borrow a phrase from the great Sydney Brenner, to have a ‘Don’t Worry Hypothesis’. Any hypothesis that allows you to imagine a explanation for something complex helps you work out how it might work. My glib ‘don’t worry hypothesis’ for lots of things (including gravity and baldness) has always been ‘rubber bands’. It now turns out that my hypothesis is not so glib, rubber … Read More

This Week in Science History: 13-9-10 - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 13, 2010

Megan Leask, PhD student, Laboratory for Evolution and Development This week in science history we celebrate the ’little things’ in life. Hans Christian Joachim Gram Born 13th September 1853 A Gram stain of mixed Staphylococcus aureus (Gram positive cocci, purple) and Escherichia coli (Gram negative bacilli, pink). (Image: Y Tambe, Wikimedia Commons) Danish pharmacologist and pathologist Hans Christian Joachim Graminvented the Gram stain, the best known and most widely used bacteriological staining method that is almost always the first test performed for the identification of bacteria. Gram staining differentiates bacterial species into two large groups (Gram-positive and Gram-negative) based on the chemical and physical properties of their cell walls. The term ’bacteriophage’ is coined in a note from Dr. Félix d’Hérelle to the French Academy … Read More

Gene Futures – Kathryn McRae - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 09, 2010

Tamsin Jones, Laboratory for Evolution and Development What do you do with a degree in Genetics? This series of posts is about people who have studied genetics, about why they study genetics, and what they plan to do in the future. Kathryn McRae Our first guest is Kathryn McRae, who is studying for her Masters degree in Genetics at the University of Otago and AgResearch Invermay. Her supervisors are John McEwan (AgResearch) and Neil Gemmell (Centre for Reproduction and Genomics, University of Otago). —- Briefly, what is your research area? Animal genomics, or more specifically sheep genomics. My project looks for signatures of selection sweeps in parasite resistant and susceptible flocks, so it also involves statistics, and a touch of parasitology and immunology as well (so a lot of learning on the job). Read More

Cedric the Tasmanian devil dies of Devil Facial Tumour Disease - Genomics Aotearoa

Sep 08, 2010

Tamsin Jones, Laboratory for Evolution and Development Last week a Tasmanian devil named Cedric passed away. He was 6 years old, which is the average lifespan of a Tasmanian devil; however, his death was reported internationally. Why? His cause of death was the devil facial tumour disease, a nasty transmissible cancer that has caused the rapid decline of wild devil populations in Tasmania. And until recently, scientists had hoped that Cedric held the key to the eradication of the disease. Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) was first reported in 1996, and since then it has wiped out about 90% of the wild devil population in Tasmania. It causes horribly disfiguring tumours that spread from the face to the rest of the body. The cause of DFTD was a real puzzle for a while — ‘contagious’ cancers are usually … Read More