As a kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist, but during the early portion of my career, I pursued my passion in biology primarily as a research biologist, doing work at the bench and in the lab. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology, I spent two years as a protein biochemist, five years as a pure bacterial geneticist, two years doing molecular biology of ciliated protozoa, five years doing molecular evolution of ciliated protozoa (including cell biology and genomics, while operating a graduate student teaching lab), and have now spent more than six years researching genomics and molecular evolution. Much of my experience has been in general biology departments, and I’ve always taken an active interest in ecological and behavioral studies—my brother Dan and sister Pat are both faculty ecologists. But rather by chance, my PhD is in oncological sciences, studying ciliates and their transposons.
Most of my career has consisted of work in bioinformatics. My professional development has paralleled the growing field of sequencing and genomics. By the time I started ciliate biology, I was generating dozens of sequencing gels, reading them by hand, and basing my papers on this sequence. Soon enough, I was sending sequencing out to a service that used ABI capillary instruments. My early postdoctoral work included proposing genomics projects (including BAC libraries) for ciliates and dinoflagellates, and analyzing genomic data. By now, the research community has progressed through second-generation sequencing methods. At NCGAS, we often consult with clients regarding the combination of second- and third-generation sequencing and scaffolding methods they should use—a constantly moving target!
NCGAS empowers research scientists by enabling them to take advantage of both IU and national infrastructure. By providing appropriate clusters and curated software sets, we give researchers access to resources they’ve never had before. NCGAS considers its outreach and its direct work with researchers as integral to its mission.
While my work with NCGAS has expanded the ways in which I can connect with and empower other scientists, I have taken great joy throughout my career in mentoring young scientists, including high school, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral student researchers.
What I am interested in
I still like ciliated protists a lot. There is a Tetrahymena project that my colleagues Bhavya and Sheri are working on, and I get to tell them odd facts about ciliate biology. I’ve done quite a bit of metagenomic work with Yuzhen Ye and her research group, again playing the biologist to their informatics.
Best part of working for NCGAS
We are paid to assist other scientists at no cost to them. They each have unique projects, and we get to help them. And that is mostly the work of my super-talented team: Carrie Ganote, Sheri Sanders, and Bhavya Papudeshi. I do a bit too much administration these days, but am still of help with biological questions.
In Utah, I hiked, skied, camped, and whitewater rafted. I had my own boat, which is still in storage (not a lot of whitewater or mountains in Indiana). As I left Utah, I was president-elect of the Utah Orchid Society. Now I garden a lot and have served on the Bloomington Winter Farmers Market Board.