“Read as much as you can, read the literature, everyone says it but does not do it… read, read, read!”
Dr. Margaret (Meg) Staton is all about bioinformatics and more! Having done her undergraduate and doctorate at Clemson she now is focused on the metadata in the department of Entomology and Plant Pathology here at UT. She is here to push big data science, making it accessible to agriculture and biology scientists, researchers, and students by giving them the tools they need to access it.
Her lab focuses on genomics with an emphasis on plants, including how gene expression changes in response to stress, how genomes have evolved across plant families, and how epigenetic mechanisms control key plant development processes. Dr. Staton, as can be seen by the abundance of live plants in her office, has a sweet spot for them and especially trees. She stumbled into the forest and has not left it yet. She and her colleagues have established the Hardwood Genomic Project found at hardwoodgenomics.org. The website’s homepage describes the project as “An open-source database for comparative and functional genomics in forest trees and wood plant species”. Her lab also develops mobile apps (check out the TreeSnap and HealthyWoods apps!)
Dr. Staton, when asked what advice she would extend to students is to keep reading. She especially emphasized the importance of good communication skills and writing abilities, emphasizing that a student should take as much time as possible to practice writing.
She is married and enjoys time with her husband, is getting into cycling, and has two large dogs. She enjoys visiting our wonderful national parks when opportunities arise. Her office is 153 in the Plant Biotechnology Building. When we are all back at work, stop in and visit her, she is welcoming and absolutely encouraging and supportive of our students and faculty. These days she spends lots of time on Zoom, and she is happy to answer questions or provide advice online (as long as you don’t mind some barking in the background).
- How gene expression changes in response to stress
- How genomes have evolved across plant families
- How epigenetic mechanisms control key plant development processes