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Joshua Watson Successfully Defends his Dissertation!

Joshua Watson of Dr. Shaying Zhao’s lab successfully defended his dissertation titled, “Human basal-like breast cancer is represented by one of the two mammary tumor subtypes in dogs.” on Friday, April 14, 2023.

Congratulations Dr. Watson!

IOB graduate student Karen Gonzalez wins 12th Annual UGA 3MT™ Competition- Congratulations Karen!

Thank you to all the students who participated in this year’s University of Georgia Three Minute Thesis (3MT™) Competition.

The competition is open to all currently enrolled UGA master’s and doctoral students, and this year’s 3MT™ drew dozens of submissions from across the university. Several preliminary heats led to the selection of ten finalists, who submitted their presentations for a panel of judges.

The final competition was held Wednesday, April 5, 2023, at the University Chapel and was livestreamed on on Facebook.



This year’s grand prize winner was Karen Gonzalez, a doctoral student in the Institute of Bioinformatics, for her presentation titled “Humans vs Viruses.”

Karen Gonzalez

Karen Gonzalez, Grand Prize Winner


The runner-up was Chisom Okoli, a doctoral student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, for presenting “Equity in Wellness: Development of an eLearning Training to Improve Healthy Beverage Consumption in Black Families of Young Children.”

Chisom Okoli

Chisom Okoli, Runner Up Winner


The people’s choice award, which is given to the contestant who receives the most votes from viewers of the competition, went to Yang Su, a graduate student in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, for his presentation of “The Bacteria Glycans: Trojan Horses in Disguise.”

Yang Su

Yang Su, People’s Choice Winner


Three Minute Thesis (3MT™) is an academic competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. 

3MT-Three Minute Thesis Founded by the University of Queensland

Holly Bik receives NSF Career award

Holly Bik, assistant professor in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Science department of marine sciences with a joint appointment in UGA’s Institute of Bioinformatics, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) to study the biodiversity, evolution, and ecology of free-living marine nematodes and their host-associated microbiomes.

The five-year, $1 million CAREER grants, among the most prestigious awarded by the NSF, support early-career faculty who exhibit promise as both researchers and teachers, and whose work has the potential to advance their field and their institution.

Bik’s expertise stands at the interface between biology and computer science, using biological questions and evolutionary hypotheses to drive the development and refinement of –Omic approaches focused on marine microbes.

Her NSF-supported project will represent the first large-scale investigation that collects molecular data across marine habitat gradients, including across salinity levels, water depths, and and gradients of environmental stressors such as pollution and oxygen availability. The study will provide a comparative dataset for the existing body of nematode taxonomic studies to advance knowledge of the structure and function of seafloor marine ecosystems.

“Nematode worms are populous in sediment habitats worldwide, from coastal estuaries to deep-sea methane seeps, though little is known regarding their interactions with sediment geochemistry and bacteria and archaeal members of the community,” Bik said. “We want to better understand how they interact with those microbial communities, as well as utilize new computational frameworks and data visualization tools to advancing the pace of environmental microbiome studies.”

“Dr. Bik is well-recognized by the scientific community for her development and refinement of high-throughput sequencing and novel computational tools to study the ecology and evolution of microbial taxa from diverse environments,” said Daniela Di Iorio, professor and head of the department of marine sciences. “Students have shown a keen interest in learning these advanced computational methods used to study complex biological ecosystems and I am confident that she will continue to provide excellent student research and educational experiences at UGA and beyond, and that this CAREER grant will aid Dr. Bik in achieving those goals.”

Bik’s research will use a novel approach that combines traditional light microcopy, environmental DNA sequencing, and single-worm genome sequencing in order to advance scientific knowledge of free-living nematodes and their ecological and evolutionary roles in marine habitats worldwide. The resulting datasets will produce an important baseline of global nematode biodiversity in shallow-water and deep-sea marine habitats, and illuminate “dark areas” in the Nematode Tree of Life – lineages which are currently poorly sampled. The project combines interdisciplinary research themes spanning marine nematode systematics, bioinformatics, and microbial ecology, with a strong integration of computational training and science communication for undergraduate and graduate students across all project aims.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to receive an NSF CAREER award that will advance my lab’s research merging classical nematode taxonomy, microbial ecology, and benthic marine science,” Bik said. “I’m especially excited to incorporate bioinformatics training into graduate and undergraduate curricula at UGA, which will help students develop strong data science skills that will be valuable for their future career paths.”

Image courtesy of Holly Bik. 

Bik lab @ UGA


By: Alan Flurry, UGA- Franklin News

Shunhua Han Successfully Defends Dissertation

Shunhua Han of Dr. Casey Bergman’s lab has successfully defended his dissertation, “Novel computational strategies for the analysis of transposable elements in Drosophila cell culture genomes.” on Friday, November 19, 2021. Congratulations Dr. Han!

@UGAResearch publishes article on the IOB Symposium

Bioinformatics symposium held online


UGA’s Institute of Bioinformatics explored Collective Behavior while practicing social distancing, holding its spring symposium online March 20. The decision to go online was an easy one, according to Jonathan Arnold, professor of genetics and co-chair of the event. He’d been following the spread of the coronavirus closely and anticipated that the university might shut down, so early in March he and co-chairs Travis Glenn and Natarajan Kannan decided to take the symposium online. Arnold said the decision relieved the anxiety of their speakers, who would have had to travel from Maryland, California, Texas, Massachusetts, Arizona and Glasgow, Scotland. “It’s also fun,” he said. “It’s a new way of doing things that allows us to reach more people.” The original plan was to host 150 people, but 407 “showed up.” That included students from the country of Jordan, where one of Arnold’s former students is now a professor. “The university is still doing business,” Arnold said. “We just have to find new ways of making it happen that recognize the need for social distancing.”

To view the original article click here.