This semester is an extended vacation

As part of my new “retiring on the job” plan, I’ve managed to get a schedule with no classes on Tuesday or Thursday for the first half of the semester.   Yep, that’s me.  Three days a week.  I’m going to get a lot of research done.

Of course, this is partly because I have a web class, so I’ll be putting in a fair amount of teaching time outside the classroom too.  But I’ve taught it several times before, so it’s well organized.

Today I turned in two reviews of scientific papers on Cuphea.  It’s a plant genus that I used to work on, back before I started doing fungal stuff.  My old friend Dennis Ray is editor of Industrial Crops and Products, and he emailed me right around Christmas to ask if I’d review these papers, since there aren’t a lot of people with any Cuphea expertise around.  So I did, but it turns out that what they really needed was someone with heavy statistics expertise.  I’m not that up on principal components analysis, frankly.   Still, I think I can tell if an argument makes sense or not, so I guess it worked out.

Next I have to settle on papers for the students to read in Problems in Cell and Molecular Biology.  I’m doing a unit on RNAi first — I have a couple of papers I like, but I need to look at them more carefully to see if they’ll be appropriate.

I’m also trying to come up with some exercises for the Molecular Genetics class.  I have them read scientific papers, too, but this is a lower-level class, and I want to break them in gradually.  I’m going to pull out a single experiment and results from a paper and have students explain that, then work up to whole papers.  We’ll see.  I’ve been frustrated in the past with attempts to get students to understand primary research.

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