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Computational biology symposium to showcase research, celebrate new center

The Cornell-affiliated Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) will host an inaugural symposium for the institute’s new Computational Biology Center (BCBC). The free symposium will take place in the BTI auditorium Tuesday, May 8, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

As biology continues to develop as a data-rich discipline, computational approaches are becoming increasingly common in plant science. However, software platforms and bioinformatics resources are often developed for animal genomes. Recognizing a growing need, faculty and staff at BTI have worked to develop the BCBC as a research center to fill this gap.

“The BCBC is special because it not only explores the diversity of plants, but also the organisms that interact with them,” said Susan Strickler, BCBC director. “We can then apply this knowledge to problems related to agriculture and the environment, as well as human health. In addition, this work also promotes collaboration between bioinformaticians and biologists, for whom the center also provides consulting and training to develop their computational skills.”

Scientists at the BCBC will address current needs in computational research, continue to build upon the institute’s bioinformatics strengths, and promote synergistic interactions amongst groups at BTI and Cornell. The center will be based at BTI, but will interface with members of the Cornell community and beyond.

In celebration of the center’s opening, the symposium will introduce participants to a wide variety of disciplines in computational biology. Presenters will include representatives from Cornell, the European Bioinformatics Institute, New York University and the University of California, Davis.

Presenters and topics:

  • David Bonter, Cornell Lab of Ornithology: “Generating ‘Big Data’ Via Public Engagement: Data Acquisition, Validation and Visualization at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology”;
  • Paul Flicek, European Bioinformatics Institute: “The Opportunities and Challenges of Sequencing Thousands of Vertebrate Species”;
  • Carla Gomes, Institute for Computational Sustainability at Cornell: “Computational Sustainability”;
  • Jenny Kao-Kniffin, Cornell School of Integrative Plant Science, Horticulture Section: “Extending Microbiome Science to Agricultural Systems”;
  • Carol Huang, New York University: “Learning New Biology From Genomewide Maps of Regulatory Elements”; and
  • Oliver Fiehn, UC Davis: “Using Cheminformatics in Plant Metabolomics.”

Marissa Zuckerman is a communications associate at the Boyce Thompson Institute.

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Joe Schwartz