Biological Informatics question

Curtis Clark jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU
Wed Jan 31 16:55:50 CST 2001

At 09:07 AM 1/29/01, Ken Klemow wrote:
>Does anybody know of any white papers or reports that point to the
>need for students to have skills in uncovering on-line information in
>organismal biology?  Does anybody have personal knowledge of recent
>graduates using Biological Informatics jobs that they got
>following graduation?

Unfortunately I know of no specific studies. But I have been thinking about
the issue in light of the replies to this.

Let us not forget the COM in TAXACOM. Although we could well think of the
acronym as "Taxonomists Communicating", it originally referred to computers
in taxonomy. Systematics was one of the first non-mathematical fields to
embrace computers (not that systematics isn't often mathematical), and
people were talking about specimen databases at least 25 years ago. The
entire field of museum informatics began, as far as I can tell, in natural
history museums.

Today there are many more pieces to the puzzle. In addition to collections,
identification, and tree-building, there are genomics/proteomics, and, not
mentioned yet in this thread, geographic information systems. And don't
forget basic statistics. Not all of these things are "on-line" in the sense
of being at the other end of a TCP/IP connection, but that is often an
artifact of funding.

In my experience, the ability to deal with one aspect or another of what we
should broadly include in "bioinformatics" is a *minimum requirement* for
employment as an organismal biologist. The fact that some employers have
not yet caught on to this is a measure of their (lack of) potential for
future success.

Curtis Clark        
Biological Sciences Department             Voice: (909) 869-4062
California State Polytechnic University      FAX: (909) 869-4078
Pomona CA 91768-4032  USA                  jcclark at

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