12th August 2019 – Katherine James, Natural History Museum

Katherine James_3Hi, I’m Katherine and I’m currently Bioinformatics Manager at the Natural History Museum in London.  In November, I will be moving to Northumbia University as Vice Chancellors Fellow in Bioinformatics.  My research focuses on the analysis and systematic integration of largescale omics data and the development of approaches for the analysis of next generation sequencing data, with a focus on evolutionary genetics.

I originally studied Molecular Biology as an undergraduate at Newcastle but, due to a lack of jobs in the area at the time and following a disappointing third year project, I spent the next few years outside of science: managing a pub and restaurant (great fun, poor pay), and then working as an administrator for the Civil Service (better pay, mind-numbingly boring).

Eventually my love of biology and computing science led me back to Newcastle to the, then relatively new, MRes Bioinformatics course. I subsequently stayed to do a PhD in Computing Science (during which I was lucky enough to be one of the first Computing Science PhDs in the UK to do laboratory work during my project). As a Post-Doc I worked on a diverse range of project; from data analysis to software and algorithm development, and involving yeast, human and bacterial data, before moving to London to join the NHM.

My current research is very different from the classic “model-organism“-oriented work earlier in my career, and I often refer to it as “I’m a bioinformatician, get me out of here!”  If it has DNA, then we want to sequence it; I work with sharks, whales, scallops, tapeworms and a whole host of other invertebrate species. This week I’m looking forward to talking about the changes in bioinformatics over the last few years, and the challenges ahead as we apply bioinformatics algorithms to more diverse species.

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