101 questions with a bioinformatician #15: Karyn Meltz Steinberg

This post is part of a series that interviews some notable bioinformaticians to get their views on various aspects of bioinformatics research. Hopefully these answers will prove useful to others in the field, especially to those who are just starting their bioinformatics careers.

Karyn Meltz Steinberg is a staff scientist at The Genome Institute at Washington University ('TGI' to those in the know, but it will forever be the GSC to some of us). Prior to joining, Karyn was a postdoc in Evan Eichler's lab at the University of Washington (perhaps she is destined to head herehere, or here when time comes to move on?).

Her current position sees her work as part of the Genome Reference Consortium to improve the human reference assembly. In particular, she is involved with characteHrizing and resolving the particularly 'messy' regions of the genome that have complex genomic architecture.

You can find out more about Karyn by following her on twitter (@KMS_Meltzy). And now, on to the 101 questions...



001. What's something that you enjoy about current bioinformatics research?

I enjoy the collaborative community of bioinformatics. Although we are all working on our own research questions, the basic issues of how to process sequence data and report and annotate variants are the same. I've attended some workshops recently and have been impressed with how much people want to work together to solve these problems particularly with respect to the new reference assembly and dealing with the alternative loci.


010. What's something that you *don't* enjoy about current  bioinformatics research?

File formats. Can we please agree on something, friends? (KB: see Law's First Law!)


011. If you could go back in time and visit yourself as an 18 year old, what single piece of advice would you give yourself to help your future bioinformatics career?

I actually love the fact that I was not a bio major and that I did tons of non-sciencey activities as an undergrad. My non-traditional journey has definitely shaped who I am as a researcher. I would advise my 18 year old self to not be afraid of the command line and to learn a programming language earlier.


100. What's your all-time favorite piece of bioinformatics software, and why?

BEDTools. Full stop.


101. IUPAC describes a set of 18 single-character nucleotide codes that can represent a DNA base: which one best reflects your personality?

I was going to say '.' because I work on filling gaps in the human genome, but Deanna Church already took that. So, I will go with 'S' as I like a GC-rich challenge and the flexibility of being either a purine or pyrimidine.