// Twitter Cards // Prexisting Head The Biologist Is In: New Orleans

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Orleans

I'm in New Orleans most of the week for the 12th ASM Conference on Candida and Candidiasis. Today I presented a short talk about a genome sequence analysis tool I have been constructing. The main purpose of the tool is to provide the user with a large-scale overview about what changes have occurred in the strain, when compared to another strain (which may or may not be the reference genome for that species).

Most biologists don't have the solid grasp of mathematics or computer programming needed build such a tool, but they can recognize how the tool can help them when presented with what it does. More than one associate came to me afterwards and relayed stories of what they saw in the audience while I was talking. (The associates had seen me present on the topic, or have already been using the tool, and so didn't really need to follow my talk.) One researcher was observed taking notes on her copy of the presentation schedule, placing check-marks by each talk after it concluded. At the end of my talk, she circled my section enthusiastically. I expect she will be finding me to ask questions over the next few days.

Last night I was talking with an associate about some of the quirks involved in the data he was looking to analyze. He asked me, "How does it feel to be the only person doing this?" I was somewhat surprised by this, as I had not put serious thought to the matter.

Long before I started grad school, I had heard it was a grad student's job to become the world expert on something. Since we're investigating things that are not known, it really isn't too hard to do…  but I hadn't thought about it in a while and nobody had ever pointed it out to me.

I do wonder what I've gotten myself into with this project, as it could be something the Candida research community might want to have around for a while. As I'm the only developer on the project, I may be attached to it for some time. Once I graduate, however, I don't know how much of my time I will want to be donating. Perhaps I can get paid to assist others with their data analysis in a consultant level. This would allow me to have a day job and still contribute to the research community.