Hometown: San Diego, CA
Project title: Deciphering the epigenetic consequences of SWI/SNF loss via multiomic analysis
Project description: A family of chromatin remodelers, known as SWI/SNF, are responsible for sliding histones in chromatin to determine which genes are accessible at any given time. SWI/SNF mutations are found in 25% of all human cancers, though their mechanisms are not understood. Using a colon cancer model organism, this project seeks to understand the role of SWI/SNF complex in stem cell differentiation and in colon cancer development. I am working with graduate student Luke Deary, who has made colon organoids with SWI/SNF perturbation and subjected them to a variety of genomic assays including CUT&RUN, RNA-Seq, and ATAC-Seq. I will then perform different computational analysis such as motif, GO, and differential binding analysis in order to identify functional regions and pathways significantly changed upon loss of SWI/SNF. I will automate these analyses by developing and maintaining bioinformatic pipelines, and perform higher-level downstream analysis once these preliminary results are interpreted. Because of the novel nature of this project in terms of its scope and scale, the methods underlying these analyses will be made available to the bioinformatics community in the form of an open-source R package.
Extracurricular activities: On campus, aside from research, I am an editor of the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern and a standup comedian with the Dartmouth Comedy Network. I am also a Pre-health mentor, a UGA, an admissions blogger, an associate perioperative support technician at DHMC, and a TA for the computer science department. In my free time, I like to cook and spend time with friends.
Future plans: After graduation, I plan to take a gap year to take a research technician position where I can apply my bioinformatics skills in a research setting, ideally as it relates to cancer. Past that, I will be applying to MD/PhD programs to become a physician-scientist continuing to research genetics as it applies to either cancer or precision medicine.