About MeUndergraduate & graduate education
: University of Groningen (The Netherlands)Postdoctoral training:
PDF @ University of Alberta (AHFMR/MRC/Killam awards)
RA @ University of Cambridge (UK)
I teach two 400/500 level courses that are typically taken by undergraduate students in their final year and graduate students in their first year(s). This is a critical transition period where aspiring researchers need to take the journey from knowledge consumers to knowledge producers. That means letting go of the "safety of facts", "embracing the unknown", and entering the realm of puzzles and enigmas that makes science so exciting.
In Advanced Microbial Pathogenicity (MMI405/505)
, we make this journey as a group by discussing selected topics in the area of bacterial pathogenesis. Each topic starts off by discussing a review paper that provides the broader background, followed by two primary research papers that illustrate specific examples of the topic. There are no formal lectures and no distraction from audio-visual technology. Just sitting in a circle and tapping into the diverse backgrounds of the participating students and myself to dig deeper into the what, how, and why of bacterial pathogenesis.
In Bioinformatics for Molecular Biologists (IMIN410/MMI510),
students are typically on unfamiliar territory making group discussions less effective. The course is therefore largely lecture-based but also has an important tutorial-based component. In my experience the "bio" is often a greater challenge than the "informatics". In other words, it is easy to run the programs but harder to break down a biological question into computational chunks, know which programs to use, and interpret the results in their biological context. This course aims to make you responsible and effective users of these new technologies and teaches transferable skills beyond bioinformatics itself.
My current research is focussed on the use and development of bioinformatics tools to explore and exploit protein structure and sequence data, including high-throughput sequencing data. Special areas of expertise are distant homology detection, phylogeny, structural biology, and high-throughput sequence data analysis. Method development is focussed on practical biologically interesting applications rather than the methodology per se. To make methods easily available I am currently exploring web-based interfaces, such as CDSBANK