101 questions with a bioinformatician #34: Katie Pollard

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.

Katie Pollard is a Senior Investigator at Gladstone Institutes and a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UC San Francisco. She is also a Faculty supervisor of a bioinformatics core that provides collaborative support for high-throughput biology across the UCSF campus.

Katie's work involves the development of statistical and computational methods for the analysis of large genomic datasets, with a particular interest in genome evolution and identifying sequences that differ significantly between or within species. Her work on the chimpanzee genome has led to lots of coverage by mainstream media, and if you want to know more about this topic, you should definitely watch the What makes us human? talk that she gave at the California Academy of Sciences (video is online here).

You can find out more about Katie by visiting her lab's website. And now, on to the 101 questions...

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

Growth in new sources of data, such as from citizen science and electronic medical records, as well as emerging technologies, like single cell imaging and genomics platforms.

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

Computing in the cloud is promising, but it is still to expensive to store massive data for ongoing active compute and too slow to move data into the cloud and out again for each analysis.

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

Keep taking math classes.

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

The UC Santa Cruz Genome Browser: you cannot underestimate the importance of looking at raw data, and the browser provides a way visualize a lot of data for every position of the genome. It is easy to check if your assumptions are right or not.

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

S for strong.