101 questions with a bioinformatician #18: Richard Emes

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.

Richard Emes is an Associate Professor and Reader in Bioinformatics at The University of Nottingham (where they let in lots of riffraff). He is also the Director of the University's shiny, new Advanced Data Analysis Centre (ADAC).

His research interests include the comparative genomics and epigenomics of (mostly) animal species to understand health and disease, and in his role as Director of ADAC, he is forging collaborations that help others with their informatics needs across the university and further afield. Most importantly, he and his team know how to come up with a decidedly non-bogus acronym for a piece of bioinformatics software.

You can find out more about Richard by visiting his lab's website/blog, or by following him on twitter (@rdemes). And now, on to the 101 questions...


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

I love the variation of ideas. I could never have followed a career of working on a single gene, protein, or disorder.  Bioinformatics lets you think in a slightly less reductionist way. Letting the data drive discovery can be exciting and rewarding


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

Seeing junior researchers working really hard to clean and analyze a complex dataset to allow visualization that provokes insight, then getting little recognition because, “they made a figure”. Recognition of author contribution is changing, but slowly


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 would say get a deep understanding of statistics and start learning helpful one-liners. The fact that sed -i 's/old/new/g' filename edits a file without you having to open it is mind blowing when you first come to the command-line. 



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

My first full project in bioinformatics was looking for gene family expansions as part of the Mouse Genome project. All the alignments and editing were done in SeaView and this is still my go to editor. 



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

Arginine. I was brought up in the West Country of England and my accent becomes more pronounced when presenting. Arginine makes me sound most like a Pirate when I pronounce it “Arrrrrjenine” (KB: 15 years experience as a bioinformatician and Richard doesn't seem to have learnt the difference between nucleotides and amino acids ;-) I will note his answer as an 'R').