Monday, September 10, 2007

Odd Ball Science

My summer was a busy one that included traveling to Germany, Austria, and England (not bad for my first trip to Europe), plus a trip home to New Brunswick/Nova Scotia. My blog took the greatest hit as I tried to keep up with my research and manuscript writing, but I hope to get back to regular blogging again.

I was one of the thousands at ISMB 2007 in Vienna, Austria and I was presenting a poster on research that I hope to submit to Bioinformatics in the next week or so. Basically, I study genomic islands (large regions of horizontal gene transfer) in bacteria including their identification, their evolutionary origins and their relationship with virulence.

During one of the poster sessions I entered a nice discussion with someone about my research. After about 30 minutes of explaining my methods, background details, future plans, etc. I asked the standard question, "What do you study and is it related to my research in anyway?" and his chipper response was "Oh, no I don't study anything like this. I just like going around to these posters on oddball topics." Now I can take suggestions, criticism, or even indifference, but "odd ball" made it feel like my research was irrelevant; leaving me to puzzle his comment for the next couple of days.

Anyway, after a visit with the bacterial annotation group at Sanger Centre, where people knew what genomic islands were and actually took some interest in my research I was worrying much less about my "odd ball " research.


Benjamin Good said...

Oddballs are really the most interesting scientists to talk to - you should be happy to be in that camp one way or another. Also, don't forget that relevancy is relative.

Pedro Beltrao said...

yeah, you can think of it as thinking out of the box :). Good luck for the submission