My name is Augustine Dunn. I am the author of the scipher blog. I am pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of California at Irvine in molecular biology. I have a BS from the University of Georgia, and have worked for years in research before that.
I use bioinformatics to study gene regulation in mosquitoes. Specifically, I use RNA-seq and microarray technology to study how bloodfeeding affects gene expression in mosquitoes, and look for over represented patterns in regulatory DNA.
The long term goal of my lab is to produce genetically modified mosquitoes that do not transmit Malaria or Dengue Fever that will spread this trait swiftly through local mosquito populations.
About the blog
I chose this name because the language of science can often seem like deep encryption that can put the average person off from ever inquiring about science past a superficial level. This leads to a general public that is isolated from the science that their taxes are paying for. Perhaps more upsetting, however, is the potential for misunderstanding that inevitably results between two groups of people that do not communicate well between each other. This is caused by many factors, but one is simply that people within any profession speak in a jargonized fashion that helps them communicate complex ideas between each other in an efficient manner. Think about two military folks talking in acronyms. However, this type of language fails dismally in communicating ideas to people who don’t know the jargon. SCIPHER is a play on the word cipher, which can be informally defined as a code. By adding an ‘s’ to the word, it now might be thought of as the code of science speak or SCIpher. Hopefully, I will be able to decode this language for many topics, and some readers may be heartened to delve deeper into the amazingly awe-inspiring world in which we live without the fear of the scientific jargon that may have held them back before.
I hope to use this weblog for simultaneously altruistic and selfish reasons. I want to write about current events which deal with science in general, but especially those dealing with biology, genetics, evolution, and the use of computers in biology in an attempt to discuss the meaning and implications of the story in a way that most non-science educated people will be able to follow and find interesting while not betraying the science with a watered down and ultimately less than accurate simplification. My goal is to serve a need to some people while helping myself think about what’s going on in the world and practice explaining complicated concepts to others.
Many times, fate willing, my posts will be on the heels of something that has recently been published in one of the big science journals. As much as I can, I will include links to references and supporting materials so that the more determined readers may delve deeper if they feel like it. If I can find freely available peer reviewed papers, I will link to those as well, but I do not see the good in linking to papers that the average person will not be able to access, so many of the material will come from Wikipedia or other free sites. As such the information will hold slightly less weight, but I will look it over before linking and look for problems in it. It is important to me that everyone who wants to understand be able to do so, and I will try to interact with people through the comments as much as I can.
If you like the blog, PLEASE LINK TO ME! I will link to other science blogs as well. If anyone would like to contact me about this, you can contact me at scipher.blog [ at ] gmail.com
Slightly more information about me and my interests are available at the following links: