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The Hottest Topics in Science Today: a Graduate Student's Perspective

Join me in reading some of the trendiest scientific discoveries of 2017! I will endeavor to provide some stimulating questions every Tuesday to expand your own thinking about the article. Other helpful resources are available in the Materials Section. Check out even more perspectives by going to the Discussion Section.

Identifiers for the 21st century: How to design, provision, and reuse persistent identifiers to maximize utility and impact of life science data [1]

  1. As it stands, scientific writing still includes cumbersome written citations. The authors have correctly indicated that many scientific journals are moving towards unique identifiers, like DOIs, that allow citations to be better tracked. What might this mean for the future of scientific citations in publications? What might this mean for our future "online presence" as scientists?
  2. The authors focus on avoiding embedding meaning in identifiers. This is something that we, as scientists, tend to rely on when coding our data for ease of retrieval. These are lessons that are often highlighted for computer science majors and those that are learning coding: should these classes be a part of future curriculum in PhD programs to better prepare future scientists?
  3. Large datasets are becoming more common as big hypothesis generating experimental techniques, like RNAseq, are more available. Currently these datasets are not easily accessible or uniformly stored across groups. The authors provide several suggestions for making big data more readily sharable. How could the scientific community better communicate standard within fields where "big data" is becoming more common? Who is responsible for setting these standards?

13:17, 10 October 2017 (PDT)nice Qs for today's expert faculty to address.

TZAP: A telomere-associated protein involved in telomere length control [2]

  1. Given what we have learned last week, what might the impact of the authors renaming Kruppel-like zinc finger protein ZBTB48 as telomeric zinc finger–associated protein (TZAP)? Was this justified? How might this impact the field moving forward? What about other scientific fields?
  2. The authors conclude that TZAP directly binds DNA via its zinc finger domains (Figure 2). Does their data support direct binding through these domains? If so, how do they demonstrate it? If not, how might they demonstrate it?
  3. Much of what we know about DNA replication is provided by in vitro assays. How could the authors examine TZAP function in vivo?