I have just joined the faculty at the Institute for Genome Sciences and the Department of Medicine (Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. I will be starting my lab there focusing on Human evolutionary genomics, New World populations, and genome architecture evolution.
Previously, I was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Joshua Akey at the University of Washington, Department of Genome Sciences. Here, I joined a national team of scientists working on the NHLBI Grand Opportunities Exome Sequencing Project. The goal of this project is to use targeted next-generation sequencing on the protein-coding regions (the exome) of human individuals selected for blood, lung, and heart related phenotypes and disease. As a member of the Population and Statistical Genetics Working Group we are interested in the analysis of evolutionary questions. I have taken three leadership roles in this extensive project: 1) as a lead co-author for the population genetics analysis and its forthcoming paper, 2) as the lead of a project comparing population structure in rare and common variants, and 3) as the lead of an evaluation of rare variant disease-association methods on population structure.
I obtained my PhD in the lab of Dr. Nicholas Mundy at the University of Cambridge as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Dr. Mundy’s primary focus is on the biological and evolutionary genetics of non-model organisms. This was a draw for me as my passion is biology. But my skills as a computational biologist complimented his interests in researching the association between species' evolutionary rate and phenotype. We have had success developing and implementing a new maximum likelihood model to test for such associations. We are currently applying this method to genomic level data sets from the Mammalian Genomes Project. While there I also participated in the Gorilla Genome Project as part of a large collaboration.
As an undergraduate I studied bioinformatics at Brigham Young University. For this degree I was trained as an interdisciplinary scientist with a large number of computer science and statistical courses as well as many biological core and specialized courses. Throughout my undergraduate career I was involved in research projects. These ranged from PCR sequencing of crayfish to examining the distribution of extremophiles bacteria in the deserts of Utah to algorithmic development of phylogenetic searches. In many of these projects I was a member of small multidisciplinary teams consisting of computer scientists, engineers, and physicists in addition to biologists. I had to communicate my ideas to a wide audience and I observed the advantages of multiple perspectives on a project. I also saw that my computational skills are best used when combined with the hypotheses of experimental scientists. I am thus passionate about undergraduate research.