Faculty and Student Achievements in BCB

December 1, 2016

BCB Student and Mentor Form New Business

Jennifer Chang, BCB student and her faculty mentor, Hui-Hsien Chou (GDCB and Computer Science) co-founded a company, Complex Computation, in 2015, focused around a powerful graph analysis and visualization software, she developed, called Mango.  Mango is a general-purpose tool that can be used for data visualizations so that complex data networks (“Big Data”) can be easily understood and analyzed.  As a result, she won the Collegian Innovation and Leadership award at the 2016 Iowa Women of Innovation awards ceremony which the Iowa Technology Association has held for nine years.

Building Nanomachines

BCB faculty member, Eric Henderson, from GDCB, along with his former BCB graduate student, Dr. Divita Mathur, recently published an article in the peer-reviewed Scientific Reports describing his laboratory’s successful effort to design a nanomachine capable of detecting a mockup of the Ebola virus.  These studies on how to build nanomachines may have real-world medical applications in the near future.  This project was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Exploration Grant, a NSF Inspire Grant, and personal funds.

Orphan Genes studied in Wurtele Lab

BCB faculty member, Eve Syrkin Wurtele recently received a four year, $2.175 million National Science Foundation grant to lead an effort to study orphan genes in crop species. The research could lead to breeding and engineering crop varieties that better meet the nutritional needs of humans and are more resistant to stress. Zebulun Arendsee, a BCB student in Wurtele’s lab, is leading the development of the software for the research.

BCB Student Research Efforts Recognized

  • Kannan Sankar received a Research Excellence Award for his publication record based on his research in the lab of Robert Jernigan, BBMB.His dissertation discusses several ways that the huge data in the protein data bank (PDB) can be utilized to understand the underlying principles behind the structure-dynamics-function relationships of proteins. Results from this work have several important applications in structural bioinformatics such as structure prediction, molecular docking, as well as protein engineering and design.
  • BCB student, Lindsay Rutter, was lead author on a winning student paper for the American Statistical Association’s (ASA) annual competition hosted by the ASA’s Statistical Graphics and Computing section. The paper entitled:“phyViz: Phylogenetic visualization of genealogical information in R” describes her R software package which allows users to visualize and perform basic computations on genealogical structures.
  • Sweta Roy-Carson, BCB student in the lab of Julie Kuhlman (GDCB), won the university-wide 3MT, Three Minute Thesis competition, sponsored by the Graduate College. Thirty students were chosen to participate in this event from among 100 entries.Sweta described her research which deals with the enteric nervous system.Children with Hirschprung’s disease lack neurons in the intestine which move digested food through the colon and out of the body…her research may lead to ways to treat and repair this defective developmental condition. She will represent Iowa State at the regional competition on April 7 in Indianapolis.

BCB Alums continue to Shine !

Iowa State’s vision to share and apply knowledge is being carried out by our 100 + alumni who have obtained outstanding positions in academia and in major pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and agricultural companies.  Here are several recent examples:

  • Since graduation, Kannan Sankar is continuing his work in computational drug design and antibody engineering with Schrodinger, an international firm which develops, distributes and applies advanced computational methods to the design of therapeutics and materials. He is located in Schrodinger’s New York City branch.
  • BCB alum, Yves Sucaet was named one of four Alumni of the Year (2016) at Troy State where he obtained his Master’s degree before joining the BCB program.Yves is a co-founder and chief technology officer of Pathomation, a leading innovator of software solutions within the area of digital pathology, providing software solutions with emphasis on communication and interoperability solutions for the end users. Dr. Sucaet previously served as section head data management and bioinformatics at HistoGeneX, a multinational pharmaceutical and biotech drug development laboratory in Antwerp, Belgium.
  • Divita Mathur has joined the Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. as a postdoctoral research fellow.


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