Journalist in Residence

Following the Sequence

PI(s): Aaron Dubrow (Texas Advanced Computing Center)
Start Date: 1-Jun-2012
End Date: 1-Jul-2012

Aaron Dubrow, an embedded journalist at one of the nation’s top supercomputing center, will use his fellowship at NESCent to explore the emerging class of evolutionary questions enabled by supercomputers, which, together with next-generation gene sequencers, are rapidly advancing our understanding of evolution and its implications for life-enhancing insights.

Through a series of articles and multimedia features, he will chart the development of several first-of-their-kind research projects in phylogenetics, bioinformatics, and plant biology that stand at the nexus of evolutionary theory, computer programming, and technological innovation.

Among the projects that Aaron will profile are the 1000 Genome Project, a deep catalog of human genetic variation; efforts to understand the evolution of brain structures for vocal learning utilizing rapid tree-building software; and the Gates Foundation-sponsored Integrated Breeding Platform, which aims to boost crop productivity in developing countries by providing agriculturalists with web-based access to cutting-edge breeding technologies. These projects rely on super-computing-enabled analyses to provide fresh insights into evolutionary relationships and mechanisms and to spread these benefits around the world. Packaged as a series, they will deepen the public’s understanding of the important work happening in the field.

Seeking to understand and address the emerging needs of geneticists and evolutionary biologists, Aaron will use his time at NESCent to interview scientists about the powerful role that computers play in their current and future research, and the challenges that the community faces in using technology effectively. These interviews will enable him to incorporate the wisdom, experiences, and predictions of the community into the discourse surrounding evolutionary biology.