The first snows of the 2014 also brought the first roundtable of the year. This month Ivan Gomez-Mestre has spoken with the PhD students about his scientific interests and his scientific career.
Ivan started the meeting introducing the field he is dedicated to: evolutionary biology. He explained the most important arguments to understand the great biodiversity that we find both at a micro- and macro-evolutionary scale. He started with a retrospective look, comparing elements of the classical evolutionary theory with the new knowledge that incorporates the extended synthesis, such as environmental induction of gene expression through epigenetic regulation.
Moreover, he presented many examples showing the evolution of phenotypic plasticity as a possible mechanism to understand the great diversity observed in nature, arguing that it cannot be solely explained via gradual accumulation of mutations in protein coding genes. It is not only the genes we have, but also the way they are regulated, that determine the phenotype. The most extreme phenotypes are normally expressed by the most plastic genotypes. The plasticity evolution via genetic accommodation can ultimately lead to new species.
Furthermore, Ivan passed some advice regarding the postdoctoral period. He suggested to find a highly motivated advisor, possibly in his/her tenure track. It is a time to be productive while trying to maintain a coherent and personal line of research. He also spoke about how he formed their current research group after obtaining the Ramón y Cajal contract and how important it was. He thinks that a scientific career is a long-term quest that has to be enjoyed as much as possible along the way.
So, Ivan’s tips for after the thesis were:
– Enroll in a dynamic group whose advisor is productive and enjoyable.
– Investigate what you enjoy and that you feel you have more questions to answer.
– Never stop improving English.
– DO NOT GIVE UP!! The Spanish science situation will get better!!
Link to the group’s website: http://www.gomez-mestre.net/Home.html
By: Pablo Burraco and Rosa Arribas