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We are researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and NOAA studying how genetics can inform conservation. Ask us anything about the Hawaiian Monk Seal, genome sequencing and anything in between!
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Hi Reddit, We are Alan Scott, Ph.D., a geneticist and Associate Professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and Stacie Robison, Ph.D., a research ecologist for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program at the Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. We are bringing you this coast-to-coast AMA to talk about how knowing the genome of an organism can tell us a lot about their biology and help inform conservationists who work to protect endangered animals. Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered species unique to the Hawaiian archipelago (there are only about 1,400 left, and they don’t live anywhere else). Stacie works to increase our understanding of monk seals’ biology, the things that threaten them and the effectiveness of conservation efforts. Stacie studies everything about monk seals from what they eat, to how they breed, to how disease impacts them, to where they travel. Alan led the collaborative effort to develop a faster way to sequence the DNA of organisms at 1/100,000th of what it originally cost to sequence the human genome and started with the Monk Seal. The genome was publically released on July 7 by NCBI. We plan to use these new genomics techniques to sequence the genomes of many more endangered species. We are excited to be working together to help scientists understand the evolutionary history, genetic diversity and population trends in this species. We’ll be back at 1pm ET today to answer your questions.​