Anyone else in bioinformatics?

Just thought I would feel out the waters.

I am an Australian PhD student working, at times, at the bioinformatics end of evolutionary biology and wondered whether anyone else on these forums was in a similar field?

I thought I would be worth getting to know some of you if you are. I have entered the field from the biology end of things rather than from computer science, and as such find the ins-and-outs of Python, Perl, R etc. to be both interesting and, at times, daunting.

Hi there. I'm getting my MS (not sure if I'll get a PhD) in biomedical informatics in the US. Coming from engineering. I'm also using Python/R for my research, as well as open source machine learning tools like Weka (good bless NZ). Nice meeting you.


Excellent. Good to meet you too.

What sort of data are you working on (be as general as you feel you need to be - I'm not expecting you to divulge too many details of your work on a public forum)?

At current I'm working primarily on sequence data - alignments, phylogenies and that kind of thing.

I'm working with EHR data for syndromic surveillance (case detection/outbreak detection). I tried some bioinformatics too when I took my foundational courses, but my heart really wasn't in it :-). From a computer science standpoint, bioinformatics can be more challenging (not always though), but the medical side is more appealing for me as a non-biologist.




Hey! Great to see some bioinformaticians in the community. I too am more on the computer science side of things, but I fortunately get to use my basic bioinformatics background to interact with the hardcore bioinformatics folks occasionally. I use Python a lot as well, and find it really nice for getting started on a project quickly. But, if the project is going to require something more complex, I'm a little more comfortable with C++.

I thought really hard about take a Biometrics class, thats the same, right?


Now after actually looking up what bioinformatics is, I gotta say, your field is awesome, super interesting! How did y'all get into it? What are your dream goals? Things you want to accomplish throughout your career?

Hey KMcNamara and Ollee, good to meet the both of you.

Glad to know that you have a handle on C++ KMc, I will have to keep that in mind as I am going to start using some C-based analytical tools in the near future. I have absolutely no experience with the language, so I may have questions!

I'm glad you think the area is interesting Ollee - I concur! People get into bioinformatics from all kinds of directions really. I know bioinformaticians who have come into the area from mathematics, others from engineering, many from computer science of course and also those from biology who find that their questions are better explored with bioinformatic techniques. I fall into the last of these groups.

My undergraduate background was in medical science and I then did a Master's in evolutionary anthropology. I found during my Master's that the kinds of questions I was interested in were best explored with very large datasets (millions of markers across hundreds of samples) and as a consequence I found myself needing to use Linux-based cluster computing and writing scripts in R. I found that I enjoyed this kind of work and then chose to continue with it for my PhD. So yes, I kind of fell into bioinformatics. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a bioinformatician though - my skill set isn't that broad. I see myself as an evolutionary anthropologist who clumsily makes use of bioinformatic tools.

Tis an interesting story. What is your goal with the PhD? Right and proper research? Education? Something else I'm not aware of that having a Bioinformatatical PhD would allow you to do?

Research and teaching are my main focuses. I seem to enjoy teaching more than most of my research colleagues do, so that plays to my favor job-wise. I am not terribly interested in entering the corporate world and I'm not too concerned about money. This being said, academic positions in Australia tend to pay quite well anyhow. After I finish the PhD it is more likely that I would end up teaching in an anthropology department than one with a focus on bioinformatics though - most of the teaching I have done has been in this area.