Two people smiling in a picture

Message from the Director

Quick Summary

  • A message from Blake Meyers the new Genome Center Director about his move to UC Davis, his time so far, and future perspectives.
Two people smiling in a picture
My wife (Graziana Taramino) and I drove from St. Louis to Davis, about 2000 miles, with our dog (Penny) and the things the movers wouldn’t take. It was three long days of driving, much of which was on or parallel to Route 66. This photo is from Seligman, AZ.

I am pleased to join UC Davis and the Genome Center as the new director. First, a big thank you to Richard Michelmore for his many years of outstanding service to the Genome Center, stretching back to its founding. He and his lab members have also been helpful and accommodating to me and my lab members as we’ve moved into the Center and gotten settled. And what a move it has been! You might not have seen as much of me as you might want or expect, but that’s because there are so many tasks to check off the list, ranging from unpacking to new employee matters (for me), to our settling our home (how do you register a new, out-of-state, leased vehicle in California?), to authorizing a new lab on campus, and to even figuring out exactly what the day-to-day of my new job entails. I am thrilled to be back in Davis – it is my third time moving here, as I was at UC Davis both for graduate school and my second postdoc. I look forward to getting to know everyone at the Genome Center, and to building my network across campus so that I can promote the exciting science and technologies of the Genome Center, and continue to grow its impact.

I have been asked what to expect from me, or what I expect of you. I expect engagement – that you will be accessible, supportive, and open to ideas for improvement, and of course you should expect the same of me. Please come to me with problems and we can come up with solutions. A culture of participation is key for a well-functioning institution. We have a collective responsibility to promote diversity, inclusivity, and train the next generation of scientists through cutting-edge research. Collaboration has also been instrumental to my lab’s success; collaborators bring diverse ideas, problems, solutions, and ways of working. I was attracted to the role of Genome Center Director because of the focus on science and technology, which are among the things that I’m passionate about. In addition, UC Davis offers me many potential collaborations, because of the number of labs and the breadth of topics. I am challenged by the diversity of science even within the Genome Center; like anyone, my expertise is narrow (mostly small RNA biology in plants). I look forward to learning what questions your work is addressing, how you do it, and where there are intersections in interests of my lab or other labs, to bring people together. 

A person smiling in a picture
My former postdoc, Kevin Cox was helping provide oversight to the move. He is now a Wash U/Danforth Center faculty member and has taken over my former lab space, so wanted to keep close tabs on what left and what stayed.  

As the well-worn phrase says, "the only thing that is constant is change." While I'm still getting acquainted with the various labs and facilities within the Genome Center, I anticipate that we will see continued evolution in the technologies and approaches driving "omics" research. Specifically, I believe the field is moving towards resolving molecular states (RNA, protein, metabolites) at single-cell resolution, in 3D space, and over time and treatments or genotypes. This "spatial biology" approach will require integrating high-resolution measurements, advanced imaging, and robust computational capabilities to analyze the data. To support these advancements, the Genome Center, and UC Davis more broadly, will need to continue investing in state-of-the-art instrumentation and computing infrastructure. For example, in my own lab's work on gene expression and small RNAs in plant reproductive tissues, spatial transcriptomics will be a critical tool for gaining new insights. I look forward to exploring how these emerging technologies can benefit the diverse research programs across the Center.

Picture of moving boxes
The lab was packed into a specialized trailer, with a massive generator to keep the four freezers powered for the trip.  The movers were outstanding, and packed the lab in two days, and loaded the truck on the third day. In this photo, the boxes backed up in the hallway when the elevator broke – trapping five movers and a -80C freezer for a half hour (part of the blue plastic floor protector got stuck in the door).

I am honored to take on the role of Genome Center Director and to have the opportunity to work alongside all of you. I'm excited to learn from you and find ways we can collaborate to drive innovation and discovery. As I settle into this new position, please don't hesitate to reach out, share your ideas, and help me better understand how I can support the work being done at the Genome Center and across campus. I look forward to meeting with you all in the coming weeks and months to build connections, identify new opportunities, and ensure the Center continues to thrive.

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