Since 2008, I have been a PhD student (now candidate) in Maria Rivera‘s lab at Virginia Commonwealth University.
My research interests lie in phylogenetics and molecular evolution, and my work has largely been focused on understanding microbial community structure in natural ecosystems (e.g., the Atlantic, Hog Island, and the human body), using 16S hypervariable regions and high-throughput sequencing. We are also involved in a $2.6M Tree of Life NSF grant to reconstruct the phylum Euglenozoa. I generate my own data (field work, DNA extraction, PCR), write a lot of code (Java, Groovy, Python), build huge databases (PostgreSQL, MySQL), and crunch massive amounts of data on VCU’s HPC clusters.
Earlier in 2008, I completed a Professional Science Master’s degree in Bioinformatics with Paul Fawcett. We wrote some pretty nice software for microarray data analysis, but were beaten to the publishing punch by another group using a similar method to compare gene expression patterns.
From 1999 until 2007, I worked in Information Technology, after graduating from Gettysburg College with a Bachelor’s in Biology (1999) and a brief stint as a graduate student at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (1998-1999). Across many industry sectors, I managed some of the largest Windows server infrastructures in the country. Though largely unsatisfying as a career path, what I learned from those experiences has proven invaluable as I pursue a new direction in academic science.