Ego sum qui sum. I am who I love, what I read, what I believe, what I do, what
I know, what I want to know and the simple rituals that I follow. I was what I did and part of it carries on on who I am today. Italo Calvino put it better:
Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combinatoria of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined?Italo Calvino
About the site
I created a predecesor of this site in 1997, with the idea of learning how web pages worked, and making my publications freely available. The blog started six years later in July 2003 as my shoe box for useful code and data analysis scribbles, things that I wanted to remember, ranging from simple issues creating problems for newbies to obscure pieces of code. I later expanded it to include photos and sounds (grouped under jetsam), nothing spectacular but I enjoy recording the world around.
On the data analysis side of things, this is not an ‘R blog’, although R is the main vehicle that I use these days for data analysis. ASReml, SAS, Python and any other thing that I may use from time to time also appear in posts, together with quotes and notes from books that I find interesting.
I grew up in Chile, Venezuela and Argentina; studied forest engineering in Chile and did my quantitative genetics Ph.D. in New Zealand. This was followed by six years in Tasmania (Australia, yes, but like a different subcountry) and have worked in New Zealand for over decade and a half.
Having lived in and visited many countries, I think globalization is a positive
force where I can be a citizen of the world, while still calling New Zealand
home. Years of living under dictatorships taught me that one needs to have
access to all types of freedom; market freedom without political freedom,
or vice versa, is completely pointless.
At some time I wrote
Consistency can be good when we are true to our best, but it can be a drag when we want to become better. I have to break now with over six years of “backward compatibility”, which means starting over. This means that i – I can be self-contradictory and ii- this is, some times, a good thing.
I like literature, especially poetry and short stories, although I also
enjoy good science fiction and fantasy novels. Some of my favorite authors:
- On top of the list come the short stories by Julio Cortázar. I always keep a copy of Historias de cronopios y de famas (Cronopios and famas) nearby. A very short story to whet your appetite: Preamble to the instructions on how to wind a watch.
- Jorge Luis Borges, whose intelligent and full of detail stories and essays
have accompanied me for almost 30 years. Remember that “To refute him is to become contaminated with unreality” (from The Avatars of the Tortoise, essay). I keep a transcription of The Library of Babel in this site.
Depending on my mood I call myself a forester, a quantitative forester (term that I lifted from Oscar), a quantitative geneticist or (if I want to sound suave and trendy) a statistical geneticist. I like the intrinsic beauty of mathematics; the fact that it is a useful discipline is a bonus.
My first job was with the Chilean Tree Breeding Cooperative based at the Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia. I lived four years in New Zealand while doing my Ph.D. and then moved to Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. There I was leader of the breeding strategies project at the CRC for Sustainable Production Forestry for three years based at the School of Plant Science (University of Tasmania). After that I worked as Forest Biometrician in Forestry Tasmania for another three years. I returned to New Zealand in 2006, where I work at the University of Canterbury.
I was involved in the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) between 2005 and 2019 as Coordinator (and later Deputy Coordinator) of Working Group 2.04.02: Breeding theory and progeny testing).
I completed my primary and secondary education going through seven
schools in three Latin American countries. This was a symptom of the politics and economics of the 1970s and 1980s rather than of my quality as a student.
I did my B. For. Sci. degree and got my Forest Engineer title (between
1987-1992) at the School of Forest Sciences], Universidad de Chile, with a thesis analyzing the genetics of early performance of progeny tests of Eucalyptus camaldulensis. I graduated with maximum distinction as the best student of my generation.
Between 1996 and early 2000 I did my PhD in quantitative genetics and tree breeding at Massey University (New Zealand) under the supervision of Prof. Dorian Garrick. My PhD topic was ‘Multiple trait improvement of radiata pine’, which included the analysis of longitudinal data and the development of breeding objectives for radiata pine. My studies were supported by the NZ Ministry of Foreigns Affairs and Trade, and the NZ Forest Research Institute.
My animal breeding pedigree is Dorian Garrick ← Dale van Vleck ← Charles Henderson ← Lanoy Hazel ← Jay Lush.
My not very impressive Erdős number is 6: LA Apiolaza → AR Gilmour → RD Anderson → F Pukelsheim → GR Grimmett → B Bollobás → Paul Erdős