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Congratulations to Shawn Trojahn – NSF GRFP!

Congratulations to Shawn for receiving the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)! We are thrilled for Shawn. This is a fantastic testament to his accomplishments and promise as a graduate student!

“The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions… For the 2017 competition, NSF received over 13,000 applications, and made 2,000 award offers.” from

Welcome Intern Laura Helou!

Laura has arrived from France! We are very excited to have Laura visiting the lab for 5 months to work on detecting and annotating transposable elements in extreme species!

Laura obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology at the Montpellier University (France) and now she is in the last year of a Master’s Degree in Bioinformatics at the same university. During her master’s degree she has done two internships and developed a strong interest for comparative genomics and the impact of structural variation on the evolution of species. She worked on benchmarking of several tools for the detection of structural variation in the rice genome.

Alex Fraik and Michael Saxton give their first presentations

Congratulations to Alex Fraik and Michael Saxton on presenting their first oral presentations at the School of Biological Sciences Graduate Research Symposium! They both gave great talks! The School of Biological Sciences Graduate Research Symposium is organized by graduate students annually and coincides with our recruitment event for visiting prospective graduate students.

In defense of science

I (Joanna Kelley) endorse the following, which was drafted by Graham Coop (UC Davis), Michael Eisen (UC Berkeley) and Molly Przeworski (Columbia):

We are deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s move to gag scientists working at various governmental agencies. The US government employs scientists working on medicine, public health, agriculture, energy, space, clean water and air, weather, the climate and many other important areas. Their job is to produce data to inform decisions by policymakers, businesses and individuals. We are all best served by allowing these scientists to discuss their findings openly and without the intrusion of politics. Any attack on their ability to do so is an attack on our ability to make informed decisions as individuals, as communities and as a nation.

If you are a government scientist who is blocked from discussing their work, we will share it on your behalf, publicly or with the appropriate recipients. You can email

If you use this email address, here is a PGP public key for PGP encryption:

Ecological Genomics 2016

Anthony Brown, PhD candidate at WSU, and Joanna Kelley had the pleasure of attending Ecological Genomics 2016 symposium in Kansas City, MO. #EGSym2016 The conference was fantastic! Anthony presented new work titled “Genome-scale data reveals that endemic Poecilia populations from small sulfidic springs are more diverse and less inbred than populations undergoing range reduction” and Joanna presented about “Genomics in extreme environments: organisms overwintering in polar environments”. There was a vast range of talks at Ecological Genomics 2016, including different questions under the umbrella of ecological genomics, different approaches, and many interesting study systems. We are looking forward to #EGSym2017


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Viewing bears in Katmai National Park, Alaska

I recently had the distinct pleasure of traveling to Katmai National Park in Alaska to view brown bears. Michael Saxton, PhD candidate in the Robbins and Kelley labs, spends his time as a graduate student and a ranger at Katmai National Park. We are studying the genetic structure and relatedness of bears that visit Brooks Falls each year. Michael is collecting samples this summer for the study. We are also studying how gene regulation changes during hibernation at the WSU Bear Center.





Local adaptation review published in The American Naturalist

Our Computational Challenges in Landscape Genomics Working Group at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBIOS) wrote a review about detecting local adaptation using genome-scale datasets. In the review, we highlight caveats and considerations. The review is open-access at The American Naturalist. Link to a related highlight at NIMBIOS. We are thrilled to see the paper in press and hope that future genome-scans for local adaptation will take some of our recommendations into consideration.



Nature Reviews Genetics Marine Vertebrate Genomics online

Cover Kelley et al. 2016 Nature Reviews Genetics

We are thrilled that our review on marine vertebrate genomics is online! The review inspired the cover of this month’s Nature Reviews Genetics. The invited review was a collaboration between Andy Foote, Nina Overgaard Therkildsen, Anthony Brown (PhD student in my laboratory) and me. It went through many iterations before this version. We hadn’t worked together before so it was a lot of fun getting to know each other while crafting the review. I snapped a photo of one of our many skype conversations.

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Lab trip to Lower Granite Dam

We had the pleasure of visiting the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River in Eastern Washington. We visited the juvenile fish facility, adult fish facility and the hydroelectric dam. All parts of the tour were fascinating. We watched juvenile fish being weighed, measured and assessed for health and then shuttled onto a barge for their downstream transport. We had the opportunity to watch adult Chinook salmon get PIT tags and measured as they work their way up the fish ladder. Finally, we saw the hydroelectric dam and inside of the power house. It’s well worth a trip to visit the dam any time you’re in the area!


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