Practical Bioinformatics the halting thought process of a working bioinformatician


Who am I? / Bio-what?

My name is Joe.  I'm a 30-year old Bioinformatics (BNFO) graduate student at a large state university.  I'm very active within my academic program, and am/have been a teaching assistant for several of our undergraduate classes.  I've worked with our freshman Phage Discovery Lab, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute-funded year-long freshman class, which lets new scientists isolate a new soil virus, and perform bioinformatics that illuminate a novel genome.

I also work with our senior seminar course, providing Perl and BNFO tool assistance, and helping our students to think about biological problems programatically.  Some of that work is remedial, making up for programming classes that were just skimmed through, and some of it is evolutionary, trying to implement new techniques like Modern Perl, cloud computing, and web-enabled bioinformatics in a classroom environment.  Sometimes it works out great, sometimes I fall on my face.

A lot of what I do is explain what my field is to people who may not be familiar.  My pat answer is that "we beg, borrow, or steal any technique we can to make sense of biological data."  When pressed, I talk about the need for biological knowledge, implemented with computational and informatic techniques.  And if met with quizzical looks, I try to relate it back to the Human Genome Project, and other high-profile efforts.

Mostly, I try to do good work.  I'm still learning about a lot of different aspects of this work, and there's a lot I don't know.  I hope this blog is a useful exercise in that process.

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