Our graduate student Priya Nakka passed her qualifying exam and advanced to candidacy on December 18, 2015, successfullying defending her thesis proposal entitled ``Understanding the evolutionary history of genes underlying complex phenotypes’’ and answering general knowledge questions on a range of subjects in computational biology and population genetics.
Here is Priya, celebrating in the lab after her exam:
pong, our new software for processing and visualizing output from clustering inference (e.g., STRUCTURE and ADMIXTURE Q matrices), has been released! pong is freely available and can be installed using the Python package management system pip. For supporting documentation and an example dataset based on the 1000 Genomes, please see the projects subpage or the Ramachandran Lab Data Repository.
Our submitted paper (Behr, Liu, Liu-Fang, Nakka, and Ramachandran) describing pong’s algorithm and comparing it against state-of-the-art methods can be found on bioRxiv. A screenshot of pong’s D3.js visualization is shown below:
The entire lab was able to present at the first Probabilistic Modeling in Genomics meeting, held at Cold Spring Harbor in October 2015. Julia’s abstract, entitle ``Inference of population size trajectories with Tajima’s coalescent’’ was selected as one of the 36 talks presented, while Lauren, Priya, and Stephen presented posters and got lots of great feedback. We look forward to next year’s meeting in Oxford, UK!
Here are (L to R) Henn Lab members Meng Lin and Elizabeth, Priya, Raphael Lab member Matt Reyna, Stephen, and Lauren at the lobster banquet!
Our work will be presented in a series of sessions at SMBE 2015 in Vienna, Austria:
Longtime collaborator Nicole Creanza will present poster 170C, entitled ``Detailed signatures of human evolutionary history in linguistic and genetic data” (Creanza, Feldman, and Ramachandran). Nicole is also chairing a symposium on cancer as a Darwinian process.
Postdoc Julia Palacios will present poster 545D, entitled ``Sideways demographic inference with Gaussian processes” (Palacios, Wakeley, and Ramachandran).
Shaila Musharoff, graduate student in the Bustamante group at Stanford, is co-advised by Sohini and will present talk 17.9 entitled ``Modeling population size changes leads to accurate inference of sex-biased demographic events” (Musharoff, Shringarpure, Bustamante, and Ramachandran).
Sohini will present postdoc Lauren Alpert Sugden’s work in talk 23.13, entitled ``Novel probabilistically interpretable methods for localizing targets of selective sweeps”.
Looking forward to an exciting and productive meeting!
Effective July 1, 2015, Sohini’s title will be the Manning Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. This endowed assistant professorship provides additional funding for the Ramachandran Lab, and we are grateful for the recognition it brings to the work of the Lab.
Aaron and Maya have been integral lab members for the past two years and will be receiving their college diplomas on Sunday in Brown’s 247th Commencement Exercises. Maya will receive her Sc.B. in Applied Math-Biology with Honors; her thesis was entitled “Statistical methods to distinguish classic selective sweeps from bottlenecks in genome-wide data”. Aaron will receive his A.B. in Computer Science, and his Sc.B. in Biology with Honors; his thesis was entitled “pong: a network-graphical approach to the inference of population structure”.
We will be miss Aaron and Maya, but luckily they are staying close by! After graduation, Maya will be studying at the New England Conservatory, continuing to develop her amazing talents as a violinist. Aaron will join Oracle’s Big Data Discovery team in Cambridge this July, by which time we plan to have submitted a paper based on his thesis work. Aaron will work in the lab in June and July, along with Gracie and Katie to release pong.
Congratulations, Maya and Aaron!
Two undergraduates are joining the lab for the summer, and will work on implementing the D3-based visualization of population structure to complete Aaron Behr’s thesis project. We are very excited to welcome Katie Liu (a sophomore at Brown concentrating in Computer Science) and Gracie Fang (a sophomore at Wellesley College concentrating in Computer Science) to the group. Gracie is funded by an REU supplement to our CAREER grant, NSF DBI-1452622.
Here are (L to R) Aaron, Stephen, Katie, Gracie, and Priya at a welcome dinner for our newest members!
Julia’s first paper (Palacios, Wakeley, and Ramachandran: “Bayesian Nonparametric Inference of Population Size Changes from Sequential Genealogies”) has been posted to biorxiv and submitted for peer review. We are excited to share these results with other researchers, and this is our first paper developed under our NSF CAREER proposal.
The link to the paper is here.
SR and the lab have received funding from the National Science Foundation for the next 5 years (2/2015-1/2020) to support our project “CAREER: Next-generation inference of evolutionary parameters from genome-wide sequence data”. The project will lead to the development of a suite of novel statistical and computational methods for inferring detailed evolutionary histories from whole-genomes of multiple individuals. In the immediate future, the grant (totaling $1,029,319) will support postdoc Dr. Julia Palacios and our graduate students. This research will be integrated with an education plan that consists of multiple activities intended to introduce young women in high school to computer science and biology research, a core goal of the Ramachandran lab.
Postdoc Dr. Lauren Alpert has had her talk accepted at the SMBE Satellite Meeting in Hameau de l’etoile, which is near Montpelier, France. The meeting topic is “Investigating biological adaptation with NGS: data and models” and Lauren will be talking about machine learning approaches she has developed for identifying loci under adaptation from genomic data. Congrats, Lauren!
Our paper in collaboration with Merritt Ruhlen, Marcus Feldman, and Noah Rosenberg is out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Find the paper here; press coverage from Brown University (a conversation with SR) is here; and we got press coverage from The Atlantic. Congratulations to all the authors, especially first author Dr. Nicole Creanza!
Our paper in collaboration with Kate Smith and CC Chen (with undergraduate coauthors Michael Goldberg and Jane Chen) is out in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. It received press from Yahoo!, Voice of America, New Scientist, International Business Times, Times of India, Journalist’s Resource, and Healio Infectious Disease News. Congratulations to all the authors!
Dr. Julia Palacios, a postdoc in the lab, has been named a Candidate [Candidato a Investigador Nacional] by the National System of Researchers of Mexico (SNI) from 01/01/2015-12/31/2017. If Julia becomes a PI in Mexico, her lab will gain additional funds due to this nomination. Congratulations, Julia!
Stephen Rong has just joined the lab as a graduate student. Stephen graduate from Washington University in St. Louis in 2014, and did undergraduate research in the Queller Lab while majoring in both Mathematics and Anthropology. He will be working towards his doctorate in Computational Biology and EEB. Welcome Stephen!
As part of Brown’s 250th Anniversary, many faculty members have been profiled in conversation with Professor Richard Fishman. See Sohini’s conversation with Richard about being a faculty member at Brown here on YouTube.
Dr. Lauren Alpert Sugden has joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow. Lauren did her doctoral work with Chip Lawrence at Brown’s Division of Applied Mathematics and graduated this past May. During her dissertation work, she collaborated with Rob Reenan’s lab on modeling RNA editing. She is working on developing a probabilistically interpretable method for detecting selection from genome-wide data. Welcome Lauren!
Aaron Behr ‘15 joins the lab starting this summer to develop a computational method that aligns cluster membership inferred by programs like ADMIXTURE across multiple numbers of clusters. Aaron’s work is funded by an UTRA. Welcome Aaron!
The annual meeting of the Society of Molecular Biology and Evolution has begun, and the Ramachandran Lab is well-represented: SR is co-chairing a symposium entitled “Out of Africa: Humans, commensals, pathogens, oh my!” with collaborator Brenna Henn; Nicole Creanza is presenting work on evolution of language (SR is the senior author); Shaila Musharoff of the Bustamante Lab at Stanford is presenting a poster entitled “A Novel Likelihood Ratio Test for Sex-Biased Demography and the Effect of Cryptic Sex-Bias on the Estimation of Demographic Parameters” (SR is a senior author).
As part of her doctoral requirements, Priya is conducting research with Ben Raphael’s Lab this summer, working on applying the method HotNet to common variants. Stay tuned for the results from this collaborative project!
The lab and PI receive press in The Scientist (“Scientist to Watch”) and Nature (“Turning Point”).
Professor Ramachandran is named a 2012 Pew Scholar, which provides a $240,000 grant to support the lab’s research.
Alyna Khan, undergraduate member of the lab, graduates from Brown. Alyna’s undergraduate thesis in Biology is entitled “Analysis of linguistic variation as a means of understanding human migration”. Congratulations Alyna!
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