As I start the final stretch of my PhD, my ideas about what I’ll research in the future are solidifying, but I’m always finding new things to get interested in. Below are some of the directions I see my research heading (as well as a brief look back).

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Genomic Complexity and Epistasis

Genomes are large and complex networks, but we often don’t study them as such. It’s often difficult to know exactly how different genes interact with one another, how those interactions translate into phenotypes, and how to quantiatively assess the complexity of those phenotypes produced.

To this end, my main goal is to develop quantitative metrics for investigating these questions of genetic complexity and connectedness.

I’m currently working on building a rank-based model of epistatic interactions, so that understanding the precise interaction network between genes is not necessary to study how interconnected (i.e., how epistatic) genes really are. In the future, I hope to further expand on developing metrics for measuring complexity of genetic network structures that utilize tools from computer science, ecology, statistics, and information theory.

Data Interfacing

We talk a lot about “data visualization” to mean things like graphs or figures, but what are alternate ways of interacting with out data? I’m currently working on some 3D data visualizations with VR, and am soon branching out into data sonification—what do we discover when we listen to our data?

Interdisciplinary Pedagogy

I ultimately am interested in weaving together math and biology at the undergraduate level and seeing how we can enhance students’ understanding of each discipline with the other. I’m also invested in pedagogy as it relates to equity, power, and privilege–which of our students are we failing, and why?

I am working this on developing some tutorials for educational software. I’m also interested in implementing alternative grading schemes in computer science curricula, and hope to work towards this goal soon!

Past Projects

In my first year as a PhD student, I worked on a mutational histories tracking tool that did not necessarily produce results (as first-year projects are wont to do), but did add a nice mutational history tracking tool to genomes in MABE.

In a past life, I worked as an undergraduate researcher in vertebrate morphology in Dr. L. Patricia Hernandez’s lab at George Washington University. There, I looked at how the shape of cypriniform (carp, minnow, etc.) pharyngeal jaws was (or wasn’t!) related to phylogeny and function.