Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hello world!

Greetings to my viewers!  For my first post, I would just like to warmly welcome you to my blog and explain to you a little about myself and how I became interested in this project.

I just successfully completed a Bioinformatics and Biology degree from Loyola University Chicago. I became interested in phylogenetics after taking the course Bioinformatics and learning different ways to construct trees and analyze the data. This prompted me to use this field as my research for my degree and was able to start working in a phylogenetics and evolutionary biology lab under the supervision of Dr. Sushma Reddy. My project involved (and still ongoing) the investigation of the phylogeny and diversification of Pomatorhinus ruficollis (scimitar babbler) throughout Southeast Asia using mitochodrial and nuclear genes. Through this lab and project I really began to gain a full perspective of the field of phylogenetics. I have been able to work in both the phyloinformatics side of things, as well as the biological side. This has allowed me to understand how the integration of the two is crucial for a complete understanding and analysis.  I really started getting excited about this field after making several visits to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and seeing all the research that goes on there. Very cool stuff.

Anyways, I swear I am going somewhere with all of this. I found out about Google Summer of Code through my bioinformatics department and was absolutely thrilled when i saw a list of "phyloinformatics projects". PERFECT!! I had been doing a little coding here and there, but not a major project. I was so excited to have a chance to string together everything I have learned and really contribute to something useful. The bioinformatics major definitely makes you take your fair share of comp sci classes, but sometimes the flow of classes is a little disjointed and there is only so much you can cram in within four years.

The TreeBASE project caught my eye for a few reasons. 1) I had the qualifications for it (hehe); 2) I have worked with TreeBASE before so I was familiar with its purpose; 3) The goals of the project interested me because the addition of metadata is extremely valuable to the user doing research in this field. Annotations that connect to Genbank or the inclusion of georeferencing information is extremely useful, but often times not possible to find in one place. I hope to be able to help TreeBASE become a one-stop-shop for phylogenetics researchers!

Okay, enough for now. I will add more very shortly about what exactly it is I am going to be doing this summer and what I have done to prep for it thus far during our "community-bonding period" :). But now, it is lunch time!

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