GSA President Jeannie Lee invites your input.

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Like everything right now, science is changing fast. It seems like every time I look up from my work, the view has shifted, and the landscape is a little less familiar. This speed can be both exciting and disorienting, but either way, it pays to scan the horizon sometimes. As President of the GSA Board of Directors, I want to ensure the Society does exactly that.

The GSA Board, the GSA staff, and the many volunteers on our committees work hard to serve the genetics and model organism communities, but as is true for many organizations, most of the time we have our nose to the grindstone just to get things done—whether it’s the next issue of our journals, the next conference, the next travel award deadline, or the latest budget.

But if we’re to keep up with changing times to truly serve science, the Society must occasionally pause to ask some tough questions. Where are we going? Where should we be going? What does the future look like? How can we shape that future?

In this spirit, we have initiated a strategic planning process, the first step of which will be a “blue sky” meeting to come up with new ideas and dream up possible futures. Blue sky meetings encourage participants to think creatively while setting aside real-world barriers like time, cost, and politics.

The conversation will bring together a small group of stakeholders from both within and beyond GSA, including Prachee Avasthi (University of Kansas Medical Center), Giovanna Collu (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai), Lynn Cooley (Yale University), Cassandra Extavour (Harvard University), Marnie Halpern (Carnegie Institution for Science), Mark Johnston (University of Colorado School of Medicine), Rob Kulathinal (Temple University), Erica Larschan (Brown University), Terry Magnuson (UNC Chapel Hill), Mark Peifer (UNC Chapel Hill), Buck Samuel (Baylor College of Medicine),  Jordan Ward (UC Santa Cruz), and Ting Wu (Harvard Medical School), among others to be announced soon.

To help this crucial first step of thinking big, we need input from you. We’d like to better understand what’s on your mind right now. What challenges are holding you and your science back? What are you most excited about for the future? How is our field impacting society?

We hope you’ll take the brief 10 minutes to fill in this survey. You’ll be entered into the drawing to win one of 40 $20 Amazon, Starbucks, or Worldwide Visa gift cards, and for every completed survey we’ll donate $1 to UNICEF and Partners in Health (up to $1000). We want to hear from all parts of the community, including students, postdocs, research scientists, faculty, industry researchers, and educators.

I think you’ll find it rewarding to take a break from your own daily tasks to look at the long view for a few minutes. It’s the only way to make sure we’re heading in the right direction.

Update, April 26, 2018: The survey is now closed, thank you for the fantastic response! If you have feedback or suggestions, send an e-mail to

Jeannie Lee is Immediate Past President of the Genetics Society of America. She is a Professor of Genetics and Pathology at Harvard Medical School and an HHMI Investigator. The views expressed in her "Frameshifts" posts are hers and are not necessarily endorsed by the Society.

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