Hello there, young scientists and explorers! My name is Anu. I’m a bioinformatics researcher. Wait…Bio-info..-what?? Well, I’m a bit of a DNA detective, but instead of solving mysteries with a magnifying glass, I use supercomputers and special software to uncover secrets hidden in the DNA of living creatures!
(Have you ever wondered how scientists use computers to unlock the secrets of life?)
My workplace is in Cambridge which manages massive amount of big data in biology (~petabytes!) and look for clues and patterns in the DNA code to answer all sorts of questions and eventually find ways to understand and treat diseases.
One of the coolest things about my job is that I get to work with amazing technology, like super-fast computers and big data.
I have now been living in Cornwall the last couple of years and I love going for coastal walks, walking on the sandy beaches (with the dog sometimes) and meeting new people.
My pronouns are:
I analyse very big genetic and genomic data from humans and mouse using computer-based methods to understand how genes function and which genes can cause specific behaviours or diseases.
I did research on human psychiatric genetics which involved understanding how our genes can influence the way our brains work when it comes to our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
I also researched on the DNA from our tiny, furry friend –mouse. Mouse! Why, you might ask? Because mice and humans are a bit like cousins in the animal kingdom. We share many genes, and studying the genes of these little creatures can teach us a lot about ourselves (like how genes can affect traits, and several mechanisms happening inside our bodies).
Besides my scientific work, I teach other (non-computer) scientists/doctors how to use the bioinformatics in their job to help them solve their queries faster.
My Typical Day:
I wake up at 6 am. I go for a walk if the weather is good, otherwise I start preparing my coffee and check my calendar for the day. I meet my teammates over Zoom to discuss the work tasks and start the work day. I get lunch at 12, sometimes a small walk after lunch. I work after lunch until 5pm, and checking how the tasks are progressing over the week and re-organising priorities if needed.
Besides my data analysis tasks, I can have one or more meetings with scientists across the world, for which I do some reading, learning, prepare presentations and take notes. I make sure to take occasional small breaks from the screen and look the trees, sky outside or stretch.
After work, I get some exercise and relax. I do some reading in bed.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I would really like to use the prize money to organise activities for kids out in the nature studying species of plants, bugs, how they have grown natural defence mechanisms (e.g. how stinging nettles sting) and how this can be applied to human life. Also, I would love to organise mini-programming activities on computers.
I did my schooling in India.
Masters in Bioinformatics (Biology, Computer science, Programming, Mathematics, Statistics)
PhD in Human Molecular Genetics
Teaching bioinformatics to college students (2013-2014)
Marie-Curie Early-Stage Researcher in the University of Barcelona (2015-2018)
Postdoctoral fellow in the Mouse Genomes Project at EMBL-EBI, Cambridge (2019-2022)
Bioinformatician supporting biological data management (2022- present)
I work at European Bioinformatics Insititute (EMBL-EBI) based on the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridgeshire (England)
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Coffee-Travel-Animal-loving bioinformatics researcher
What did you want to be after you left school?
Lecturer but also wanted to work in a field which involved computers
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Artist, Psychologist, Pet sitter!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Any celtic folk :D
What's your favourite food?
Thai veg curries
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
A home in a sunny place, travelling around the world, keeping active and social as long as I can
Tell us a joke.
Why did the banana go to the doctor? Because it was wasn't peeling well!