This interactive panel Q&A is designed to highlight career paths and opportunities in bioinformatics and provide a forum for discussion around the many different careers pathways. Hear from academic and industry researchers on their own experiences and what advice they offer.
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Group Leader and Joint Division Head – Bioinformatics, WEHI
Associate Professor Melissa Davis is a computational biologist and group leader at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, where she leads a highly multidisciplinary research group focused on computational research in cancer progression and plasticity. She is also Joint Division Head of the WEHI Bioinformatics Division, a research division comprising >60 bioinformaticians, biostatisticians and computational scientists as well as research higher degree students and visiting scientists. Melissa has honorary appointments in the University of Melbourne Department of Clinical Pathology, and the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute. She is also the vice president of the Australian Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Society (ABACBS).
Director, Head of Bioinformatics and AI, CSL
Dr Monther Alhamdoosh obtained a PhD in Computer Science and Computer Engineering (with a major in Machine Learning and Bioinformatics) from La Trobe University, Australia, an MSc in Bioinformatics from the University of Bologna, Italy, and a BEng in Informatics (with a major in Artificial Intelligence and Natural Languages Processing) from the University of Aleppo, Syria. Monther pursued a successful academic career where he received several distinction awards and scholarships for his outstanding performance in coursework and research. Monther had worked as a software developer, AI engineer, research assistant, tutor and lecturer at several universities in Australia and overseas. He also worked for some time in the industry in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Control Engineering. His research interests include bioinformatics, computational intelligence, big data analytics and IoT healthcare. He has published journal and conference articles and authored a book on the theory of machine learning and its applications in bioinformatics. At CSL, Monther leads the Bioinformatics and Artificial Intelligence team in the Global Research Data Science group where his team contributes to solving cutting-edge problems in the biomedical field. His team works very closely with global groups at CSL Research to identify new biomarkers and understand the mechanism of action of drug targets and diseases with a focus on improving patients’ lives.
Postdoctoral Research Associate and BioData Catalyst Fellow, University of Utah
Harriet Dashnow is a Postdoctoral Research Associate and BioData Catalyst Fellow in Aaron Quinlan’s Lab at the University of Utah. She did her PhD with Alicia Oshlack at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, for which she was awarded the Australian Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Society (ABACBS) PhD thesis award. Her research focuses on developing computational methods and performing large-scale genomic analyses to diagnose and understand rare disease. She is best known for developing methods to detect short tandem repeat expansions. She has also published bioinformatic methods for clinical sequencing and microbial gene detection.
Harriet has worked for Melbourne Bioinformatics (then VLSCI) on the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance project. She has taught genetics, genomics, data analysis, programming and version control at the University of Melbourne as well as workshops in the US and India. She is an author of the O’Reilly programming book Elegant SciPy. Harriet has been heavily involved in the Australian bioinformatics community, through ABACBS and COMBINE, and now runs the Utah Postdoc Association.
Senior Lecturer in Genomics and Bioinformatics, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, UNSW Sydney
Rich trained a geneticist at the University of Nottingham (UK), studying the population genetics of transposable elements in bacteria for his PhD. He moved to Dublin (Ireland) as a postdoc to become a full time bioinformatician in 2001, developing sequence analysis methods for the rational design of biologically active short peptides and the prediction of short protein motifs that mediate interactions with other proteins. Rich established his own lab in 2007 at the University of Southampton (UK) as a dual track (research and teaching) academic. Overall research interests in the lab stem from a fascination with molecular basis of evolutionary change and how novel biological functions evolved, with a focus on sequence analysis tools. Since moving to UNSW in 2013, research projects have increasingly shifted focus from proteomics to evolutionary genomics. He works with multiple research groups/consortia on de novo whole genome sequencing and assembly projects, using short reads (Illumina), long reads (PacBio & Nanopore), linked reads (10x Chromium) and Hi-C scaffolding. Rich is a member of Oz Mammals Genomics (OMG), Genomics of Australian Plants (GAP), Australian Amphibian and Reptile Genomics (AusARG), and the Threatened Species Initiative (TSI). Since 2020, he has been chair of the Education and Training subcommittee of the Australian Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Society (ABACBS). He also has experience providing and managing bioinformatics support services, as well as collaborating closely with industry and conservation organisations on applied research.