Joy Roy will graduate in May, 2019 with a B.S. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and a B.A. in Mathematics, with a Chemistry Minor. He is a URA Scholar for 2018-19 with his research partner, Eric Cheung, and a member of the Dean's and President's Lists.
Title of your research project: A software tool for the curation of planarian gene expression patterns
Describe your project: Planarian worms are amazing at regeneration so scientists study them all the time.We are creating a software for someone to use to curate information about the gene expression patterns of planarian worms, and we’re organizing this information into a mathematical database for anyone to access online so that they can see the expression patterns on the website rather than having to sift through a million papers.
Who is your mentor(s) for your project? Why did you choose them? I work forDr. Daniel Lobo in the Biological Science department. Dr. Leips used to be my advisor and when he found out that I liked math and biology, he told me to talk to Dr. Lobo and see if I was interested in Computational Biology. When I scheduled to meet with Dr. Lobo, he seemed like a really nice guy who was insightful and interested in teaching me. I didn’t know much about the work he did so he offered me a few of his papers and a spot in his lab to get some work done and see if I liked it. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor. You hear stories about undergrad researchers who don’t even get to see their PI’s and basically just work under the grad student, but Dr. Lobo has a much more active role in the development of our project and offers guidance when needed.
How did you become interested in this project? I recently learned how to code and I love it, it’s like solving a puzzle and making your own pieces. The planarian worm project was only beginning when I entered the lab and needed another coder, so I came to help out. Since then, I’ve become very invested into the program and love developing it and continuously making it better.
What has been the hardest part about your research/what was the most unexpected thing about being a researcher? The hardest part is definitely those moments when you’re stuck. You have to solve an issue and either don’t understand what’s causing it or don’t know how to solve it. You don’t want to run for help every time this happens however, so you have to persevere and try picking the problem to pieces. It can be frustrating and sometimes tedious, but that’s science. You have to have a lot of grit.
What has been the most rewarding part? The most satisfying feeling is when you just fixed a bug that’s been pestering you for weeks on end. The moment you scratch it off your to-do list makes you feel like a functioning member of society again. I also really enjoy working with the people in my lab, we’re all more like friends than work-mates.
How will you disseminate your research? My research partner and I, Eric Cheung, will be presenting our research at URCAD next year, as well as disseminating it through a publication in a scientific journal. The database will also be accessible online through our website.
What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research? Get involved early!! My biggest regret is not getting into research earlier. Learning things in class and actually doing them feel like completely different things and getting hands on experience is so much more rewarding.
What are your career goals? After graduating, I want to go on to get my Ph.D. and enter into industry and eventually into academia.