Personal StatementI earned my B.A. in Mathematics and Biology at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. I am now conducting my Ph.D. research at Drexel University. My research interests involve combining mathematical concepts to biological systems and properties in a computational setting. My immediate research involves computational analysis of the B cell repertoire, including detection and mutation analysis of heavy chain sequences and clones. In my spare time I like to try haphazardly to cook from scratch, fiddle with technology, and entertain my cat traditionally with yarn.
Research StatementMy field of study falls firmly under the rubric of the Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics. For my Ph.D. I am studying systems biology and, more specifically, the complex system interactions by which immune repertoires generate adaptive immunity to pathogens. I will develop methods to relate nucleotide level diversity to amino acid and protein level diversity and functionality. It is generally acknowledged that medicine must move forward to being more preventative and personalized; more vaccines and less anti-biotics. One of the fundamental impediments towards such advances is a lack of understanding as to the exact role of diversity in the immune repertoires that underlie adaptive immunity. A clear understanding of this diversity and its functional consequences would help us identify ahead of time - risk of autoimmunity and leukemia and the potential efficacy of vaccines to induce protective immunity. High throughput methods of sequence analysis and cell – cell interactions give us hope that such studies can be done. However, at present we are missing basic conceptual and computational tools to asses such data. Therefore, I believe the first step towards true personalized medicine is to create a reasonable model of immune diversity and it functional consequences. I will attempt to do this through system biology analysis of sequence data from different immune responses and animal models. This analysis will be done in close collaboration with several experimental biology labs in Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, and beyond. In this fashion I hope to take basic principles from machine learning and mathematical ecology and apply them to solve essential biotechnological problems relating to the manipulation of the adaptive immune system.
Projects Quantifying the diversity of germline BCR and TCR V genes
Awards 2012 - Present Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellow
Publications Meng, W., Jayaraman, S., Bochao, Z., Schwartz, G. W., Daber, R., Hershberg, U., Garfall, A., Carlson, C. S., and Luning Prak, E. T. (2014) Trials and Tribulations with VH Replacement. Frontiers in Immunology 5. PDF