Saturday, November 16, 2013

URSP Student Anisha Kolla Researches the Computational Framework for Analysis of Fungal Communities

I became interested in my project mainly because of its multidisciplinary nature. By involving Biology and Computer Science, I noticed that computer science is a very broad field and I came to love Computer Science much more. Also I get to use the skills I learned in class (Java) to complete a project that hopefully will be useful for biologists who collect fungal DNA samples. Lastly, the interest my professor shows for his area of study is contagious and makes me feel that my work would make an impact in the computer science field.
My long-term goal is to gain more practical experience in computer science that I can bring to the workplace when I graduate. This project relates to my goal because I now gear my finished product towards a larger consumer base versus for a professor or TA. There is a clear larger impact of my work in this project versus a project in a class. My programming work in this project also caters my skills in a disciplined way to be appealing to future employers.
On a weekly basis, I make incremental progress on my project. I update my professor every week on my progress, however small it may be sometimes, so I get immediate feedback especially if I need to change the direction of my project because I am trying to create an algorithm to accurately cluster DNA sequences based on similarity. An algorithm could change at any point if efficiency becomes a problem because the purpose of my project is to give a quick, easy solution to biologists who want to indentify the composition of fungal metagenomic data. I try to make progress in the right direction every week and with guidance from my mentor, I get a step closer to my final product.
This week I made progress trying to analyze how efficient my algorithm is. I discovered that as I increase the threshold (percent similarity between sequences), I get fewer clusters and vice versa is also true. In this project not only do I program but also I get to utilize my analytical skills to make decisions on how efficient my project is. I think having authority over the results of my project is also satisfying because my interpretation of similarity is different from others.