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Combining Structural Equation Modeling With Genomic Approaches

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Dr. Hermine Maes, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Human and Molecular Genetics. Her interest in the field began while she was finishing her undergraduate degree. She was interested in both the physiological and psychological sciences, but she could not decide between the two. Serendipitously, one day she was in the library doing research for her undergraduate thesis and a research professor engaged her about a research project looking at the role of genes and environment in physical fitness and performance. She accepted the position and earned her PhD in physical education while she was working for the project. She felt that this PhD program offered a nice balance of her dual interests in ‘mind & body.’ During her second year in graduate school, she met Dr. Lindon Eaves at the Twin Congress in Amsterdam, which led to her co-advisor, Robert Vlietinck, organizing the first twin workshop, which she attended as a student one year later. This experience led to her organizing the twin workshop two years later, where she got to know many of the faculty members of the workshop and leaders of the field. After she completed her PhD, she obtained a post-doctoral fellowship at VIPBG to work with Dr. Lindon Eaves on twin studies of smoking, as she thought that smoking research was an interesting way to unite her interest in physical and mental health.

In addition to the genetic and environmental influences on smoking and nicotine use, Dr. Maes is also interested in bringing together alternative approaches to examining the genetic and environmental architecture of phenotypes and has a strong methodological interest. Specifically, she is interested in combining structural equation modeling with genomic approaches as a way to stay current in the genomic era. Finally, Dr. Maes is fascinated by the process of making the methods used in behavioral genetics more accessible and accordingly has a strong commitment to teaching. She finds teaching satisfying and rewarding because it has more of a direct impact.

Outside of work, Dr. Maes enjoys skiing, photography, and listening to her children play music.

Dr. Maes does not have a favorite quote, but she does have a favorite text – “Desiderata,” a 1927 prose poem written by Max Ehrmann, an American writer:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Article by Elizabeth Long.

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