Plant and wildlife sciences professor Paul Frandsen is part of a large consortium of people working on bird genomics, with nearly 150 authors assembling the largest genomic data set ever for the world’s avian families. The 363 species’ genomes, including 267 sequenced for the first time, are catalogued in the November 11, 2020, issue of Nature.
Frandsen was invited to participate in the research analyses because of his experience analyzing genomic data for insects and his interest in evolutionary biology. “Birds are a compelling group to study because they exhibit all sorts of interesting behaviors and adaptations,” Frandsen commented while explaining the necessity of large comparative studies to understand evolutionary basis. The research shows that densely sampling genomes from a diverse group of organisms, like birds, increases the ability to identify more refined evolutionary insights.
This highly collaborative project allowed Frandsen to connect with people all over the word. He found value working with a diverse group of scientists as he gained a “much better understanding of how a consortium of scientists from different fields approach their craft.” Large consortiums benefit faculty by opening up collaborations, improving ability to research and teach, and expanding networks of colleagues, but it can also lead to new opportunities for students.