29th August 2023 – 89th issue of the Genetics Society Magazine

The cover of the Issue 89 Genetics Society Magazine

The August 2023 89th issue of the Genetics Society Magazine is now available for download.

“This year marks the 70th anniversary of the description of the double helix. To celebrate we hosted a summer symposium on DNA: Past, Present, Future and ran a school arts competition inspired by DNA and the history of genetics.

In fact, the cover art on this issue of the Magazine is a piece named “Details” by Hashim Siraj, who won the runner-up prize of the 2023 Genetics Society Schools’ Art Competition. When asked about their piece, Hashim reflected “When some things seem common or ordinary, they can be seen from the same viewpoint thousands of times and gain a new outlook each time.” While judging the entries, it became apparent that we all saw different thing in this beautiful, Rorschach-esque piece… Evolutionary trees? Brain-sections? A moth’s face? We’d love to hear what YOU see when you look at it – reach out and let us know!

Our summer DNA: Past, Present, Future event at the University of Cambridge was the perfect setting for some of prize lectures to be delivered. On page 8, we present you with all your 2023 Genetics Society prize winners and get a little flavour of their inspiring research and personal perspectives. Coincidentally, last year’s summer event celebrating the 200th birthday anniversary of Gregor Mendel was the catalyst for a fruitful collaboration between an educational outreach charity and our very own Applied and Quantitative Genetics representative Lindsey Compton. See pages 26-27 to read about how they showed young minds how amazing genetics can be, and how plant genetics can address the challenges of world food security – showcasing the vital role that plants play in the future of our world!

Speaking of plants, we also have the incredible story of A.E. Watkins who went from being an “Assistant Agricultural Officer” during World War I, tasked with liaising with the local French farmers to secure food for troops, to a young academic upstart at the University of Cambridge, racing against his seniors to collect several thousand samples of Triticum (Wheat) from literally around the World. In a time before the internet, one can only imagine the amount of patience and letter-writing must have gone into this mission! See pages 24-25 for evidence that it really was letters that achieved this. It is also a testament to the memory of an ostensibly shy scientist who quietly and resolutely overcame the obstacles of academic hierarchy to form a resource that is as relevant to genetics and the UK’s most important crop species today as it was then. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.

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As ever, we also take a moment to share some of the things we have been getting up to as a community – from our most active Special Interest Groups (see page 42) to realising that it’s okay to identify as half-egg and half-cola bottle (see pages 28-29 to decide for yourselves). On page 22 we meet our new Heredity Podcast host: Michael Pointer for the first time and hear a few parting pearls of wisdom from outbound host James Burgon. Thanks again for all the hard work James and welcome on-board Mike!


Lastly, many thanks to all the contributors of this issue and you, the readers! Reach out if you have any suggestions, requests, or contributions – I really do want to hear from you!


Best wishes,

Güneş Taylor“