"There's a really steep learning curve when you get into genomics, and if you're starting from a place of very little knowledge, it's incredibly intimidating," said Sarah Bengston, a Rice University behavioral ecologist and lead author of a new review article about genomic tools for behavioral scientists.
"I am the person who needed this paper," said Bengston, a Huxley Faculty Fellow in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Rice's Department of BioSciences. "I needed a novice-level introduction to how genomic tools could help me answer research questions. For example, was my experimental setup an appropriate system to use for genomic sequencing or any kind of molecular techniques? I couldn't find that kind of reference, so I worked with a group of really smart people to write one."
Article - Online - Week - Nature - Ecology
The article, which appears online this week in Nature Ecology and Evolution, is designed to guide behavioral scientists from any discipline with specific recommendations about whether genomics tools are appropriate for their research, and if so, which tools are likely to best work in their labs.
Bengston said she began struggling with how to incorporate genomic studies into her own research program shortly after finishing graduate school in 2015. She had won a National Science Foundation (NSF) postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester and was trying to establish her own research program.
Behavior - Connects - Fields - Biologist - Ecologist
"Behavior connects so many fields," she said. "If you are an evolutionary biologist, an ecologist, a neurobiologist or a psychologist, then behavioral variations are inherently interesting to you. For example, why are some individuals more aggressive than others? Why do we often see higher levels of aggression in individuals who are also more exploratory? We've studied these kinds of questions for years, and we know that many of these are heritable traits, but we tend to stop there."
Bengston heard about an NSF workshop on genomics...
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