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Misha Angrist Mixes Genomics And Journalism
Durham, NC - Name: Misha Angrist
Title: Assistant Professor of the Practice at the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy (IGSP)
Years at Duke: 8
What I do at Duke is: I think about personal genomics and what we are doing with the information from the human genome now that we can sequence it. How does knowing our genome affect us? And what do we do with all the information that goes along with it, like medical records? I am teaching a first-year FOCUS seminar called "Secrets of Life: DNA, Property Rights and Human Identity." I also teach science writing to undergraduates.
How I got to this job is: I spent a lot of time in school getting various degrees, including a PhD in genetics. In 2003, I came to Duke to work as a science editor for the IGSP. Once it became clear that I was doing the work of a faculty member - teaching, writing grants, writing papers - I petitioned to become assistant professor of the practice. I am often asked what "professor of the practice" means. I say it means two things: a professor of the practice brings real-world experiences to bear on his or her work, and typically devotes more time to teaching than research.
My first paid job was: delivering the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the late Pittsburgh Press newspapers. I did most of it on my bike, but this was the age of the huge Sunday paper, so Sunday's delivery entailed a shopping cart.
When I am not at work I: hang out with my 8- and 12-year-old daughters, and play guitar in a band. We call ourselves Sea Cow because we met at our children's elementary school, the mascot of which is the Manatee. We have two guitars, bass, drums and a female vocalist. We are soon to release our second CD, which is tentatively called "Tell Me Where It Hurts."
The book I am reading right now is: I recently finished two that I am using in my science writing class, both by Janet Malcolm: "The Journalist and the Murderer" and her most recent, "Iphigenia in Forest Hills." Both books raise a lot of questions about the ethics of journalism and whether what investigative journalists do is intrinsically icky.
What I love about Duke is: having access to so many intellectual resources - basic science colleagues, clinicians, people doing mind-boggling research, databases, journals and this amazing cadre of librarians just waiting to help us feckless researchers.
If I had $5 million dollars I would: I've always had a fantasy of being able to halt an NPR fundraiser. To just be able to write a check and say, `Stop right now and put `This American Life' back on.' But in reality, I'd probably just give it to my wife who would use it to save the world.
Something most people don't know about me is: that I make a mean butter chicken. That dish was what opened my daughters up to Indian food. I think it is safe to say I have had more success in the kitchen than I ever did in the lab.
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