We perform research in different areas of computational biology, in a comparative, evolutionary fashion. With an emphasis on understanding how protein structure and function have shaped the genomic sequence library of today, we pursue projects aimed at elucidating novel mechanisms of molecular evolution that contribute to biological divergence among, and within a, species. Thus, we travel back in time reconstructing the evolutionary history of protein families. As we gain insights from the past, we look to the future.
Functional implications of missense mutations - we investigate how intrinsic disorder evolves, the evolutionary dynamics of protein structure, and how the interplay between different structural and functional properties influences observed amino acid substitutions. Ultimately, we aim to better predict the functional effect of non-synonymous substitutions.
Virus evolution - we study how the proteomes of i) Coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV, ii) Flaviviruses, such as Zika, Dengue and West Nile Virus, iii) Influenza viruses and other RNA viruses evolve on the proteome level in order to inform the development of broadly neutralizing antibodies and antivirals for present day and future emerging viruses. We currently focus on proteome-wide evolutionary analyses of host-virus protein-protein interactions.
Bioinformatics research in education - we offer Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) including applications for an integrated analysis of protein sequence data illuminating structural and functional characteristics in an evolutionary context targeted to the non-bioinformatician biology student. Projects in the classroom tend to focus on viruses, cancer genomics, or personal genomics. We assess student learning, self-efficacy, and attitudes in bioinformatics and perform bioinformatics education research to better understand how to make bioinformatics accessible and attractive to biology students.
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