I did my undergraduate work at Michigan State University, earning degrees in zoology and ecological science and management. I worked in a hyena lab determining correlations between diet and social rank, a neuro lab mapping neurons and making virtual endocasts of hyena skulls, and at the veterinary school tutoring pre-vet students in prerequisite courses and teaching fun things like how to milk cows. I briefly went to veterinary school at MSU to study exotics medicine, then decided I liked research better than clinical science and attended the University of Texas at Tyler to earn a master's with Dr. John Placyk. I studied the morphological, ecological, and genetic phylogenetics of map turtles. I then did my PhD at the University of Notre Dame with Dr. Michael Pfrender, studying a very strange group of salamanders and learning to do RNA sequencing right when it was developed.
While my master's required quite a bit of statistics and phylogenetic programs, it was during my PhD studies that I first really dug into bioinformatics. I took an intro to computing for biologists, where I learned Ruby, Perl, and a lot of Unix. I then took an intro to bioinformatics course through the computer science department, where I learned algorithms, recursion, and how to build more complex code without losing my mind. That is the grand sum of my formal training! Everything else is from on-the-fly experience and informal training opportunities. I was determined to learn, so I made computing a large part of my dissertation. By the end of my time at Notre Dame, I was teaching that intro to computing course I started with. Determination does pay off!
What I am interested in
My biological interests stem from my background in herpetology and zoo science. I am largely interested in allopolyploidy (especially in vertebrates), non-model genome assembly and annotation, anything reptile/amphibian, and conservation genomics.
My computational interests are more fluid. I am currently enjoying working with IoT/raspberry pis, learning system administration, and learning how to automate workflows to make common analyses easier to learn and complete.
I am happy to entertain collaborations, so please feel free to contact me (or other staff members) if you are working on anything you think might match up with my expertise or interests!
Projects within NCGAS
I started our blog in 2017 and contribute articles regularly. I am in charge of the de novo transcriptome pipeline development, as well as developing our workshops (with a lot of help from others), and I am the main supporter of our genome browsers.
In addition to NCGAS services, I collaborate on several projects with other groups. I am helping with the redevelopment of the Tetrahymena and Daphnia genome browsers. I collaborate with other NCGAS staff and clients on ciliate mating type transcriptome analysis (with my colleague Bhavya), and annotation of the drain fly (Clogmia albipunctata) genome (with my colleagues Carrie and Tom). I am also a part of several user projects that have leveraged our de novo transcriptome pipeline. I work with CEWiT and Jetstream to develop raspberry pi data collectors for field stations, and I teach and support computational resources for MDIBL Environmental Genomics. We're a busy team!
Best part of working for NCGAS
I really love my job, especially since I get to be the computational fairy godmother I wish I had in graduate school. Providing people with an easier path through the computational phases of their work is extremely gratifying. I also really enjoy working on a diversity of projects, especially so early in my career.
Outside of work, I am often playing with reptiles/amphibians (my tegu, Momo, was in our blog), rebuilding 1970s Japanese mopeds and small motorcycles, playing story-based video games, and learning how to remodel my new house.