User talk:Kam D. Dahlquist

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How did you first enter your field of research and what motivates you to continue your work? Sahil Patel (talk) 16:01, 16 January 2020 (PST)

  • I first heard of modeling gene regulatory pathways at a talk I went to when I was in graduate school given by Stuart Kauffman who was then at the Santa Fe Institute. When I was in graduate school, the human genome had not been sequenced yet and it took a researcher about two years to clone and sequence a single gene. Then, typically researchers would make models involving that single gene, and I remember thinking, surely, there must be more genes involved than just one in any complex phenomenon in the cell. When I graduated in 2000, DNA microarray techology had just been developed and I wanted to get into that because it was a way to eventually build models that encompassed more than just a handful of genes. Even though it has been 20 years since the human genome project has been completed, we are still just scratching the surface in building gene regulatory network models. It's a very exciting field in which to be. Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 17:06, 26 January 2020 (PST)

What was the most challenging thing to overcome when first learning about bioinformatics for you? Mpaniag1 (talk) 17:42, 16 January 2020 (PST)

  • Gaining confidence that I knew what I was talking about. Early on in the GenMAPP project that I led as a postdoc, I identified an issue with the way the gene IDs were being used for the UniProt database. However, since I didn't feel confident in my knowledge, I didn't press hard enough to fix the problem upfront, when it could have saved a lot of time. We ended up having to fix it later, and I wish I had been more forceful in pressing my point. Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 09:22, 31 January 2020 (PST)

What is the most interesting results from any research you have been a part of? Cdominguez (talk) 22:11, 16 January 2020 (PST)

  • Something unexpected that we found when first analyzing the cold shock microarray data from yeast was that there is a very strong signal for genes involved in zinc ion homeostasis that are up-regulated with cold shock. It seems to be specific to zinc and not iron, for example. We still don't know exactly what that means, but it was an interesting finding that hadn't been reported before! Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 16:00, 30 January 2020 (PST)

Do you wish you had majored (or minored) in computer science as it would help your understanding in bioinformatics? Why or why not? Mking44 (talk) 11:19, 17 January 2020 (PST)

  • No, not really. Since computer science is not my main passion, I don't really regret not majoring/minoring in it. My strength lies in being able to communicate well with others that have those skills. Also, it is a rapidly changing field, so what I learned as an undergraduate would not necessarily be relevant today, unless I really kept up with the field. Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 16:33, 30 January 2020 (PST)

If you were to have a job outside of the sciences that was purely for fun what would it be and why? Nyeo2 (talk) 10:53, 18 January 2020 (PST)

  • I worked at an independent bookstore when I was in high school, and I loved that job. I love books and love to read, so unpacking and stocking new books was like Christmas every time I went to work. Unfortunately, there aren't too many independent bookstores left. :( Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 16:46, 23 January 2020 (PST)

What has been your favorite course to teach? Adinulos (talk) 21:36, 21 January 2020 (PST)

  • I feel bad for not saying "this one". I like all the courses I teach, but my favorite is BIOL 478: Molecular Biology of the Genome because it has a wet lab component. I am an experimentalist at heart, and while I do like doing data analysis, I have a special love for doing experiments in the lab. Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 15:56, 30 January 2020 (PST)

What first intrigued you about bioinformatics? Non (talk) 17:24, 22 January 2020 (PST)

  • I first saw it (and still see it) as a great tool to answer the kinds of biological questions that I'm interested in. Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 09:23, 31 January 2020 (PST)

Was Pomona your number 1 choice for undergraduate schools? If not, where else did you want to apply? Kvescio (talk) 18:43, 22 January 2020 (PST)

  • Yes, Pomona College was my first choice for undergraduate schools. Pre-internet, it was a lot harder to find out information about different schools, so I only really applied to the UC's and the Claremont Colleges. A couple of my teachers from high school recommended that I go to Pomona (one of them was an alumna) and I was happy with my choice. Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 16:50, 23 January 2020 (PST)

Do you think proficiency in bioinformatics will be a tool biologists will be expected to have in the future if it is not already, and if so how long until the community gets there? Jmenzago (talk) 19:51, 22 January 2020 (PST)

  • There is a distinction to be made between "tool users" and "tool developers". I think that biologists need to be proficient "tool users" in bioinformatics, but not necessarily "tool developers". However, there are a lot of tools out there and one would only need proficiency in the ones most directly related to one's own work. The trend to having undergraduate courses in bioinformatics started about 15 years ago when I was on the job market myself. Now, I think most places offer some training in the field and most of the newer faculty on the job market have some experience in it. Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 16:48, 30 January 2020 (PST)

How do you see bioinformatics and its role in biology in 10 years? Lurbinah (talk) 21:13, 22 January 2020 (PST)

  • Bioinformatics already is and will be a necessary part of the toolkit for biological research--like PCR is, for example. Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 09:24, 31 January 2020 (PST)

What is the most difficult aspect of your current research work? Does bioinformatics help to overcome those challenges, and if so how? Carolyne (talk) 22:22, 22 January 2020 (PST)

  • The most difficult aspect of my current research isn't the technical challenges, but is the biological interpretation of the data. I have done a lot of data analysis and modeling for the yeast cold shock research project, but at the end of the day, coming up with a good biological explanation for the data is the hardest. You can apply a lot of different cool bioinformatics analysis techniques to the data, but at the end of the day, the most difficult and creative aspect of the work is to try to explain why the cell is doing what it does. Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 16:15, 30 January 2020 (PST)

While completing your undergraduate degree, did you take any courses that encouraged/inspired your interest in Bioinformatics? Dcartmel (talk) 23:00, 22 January 2020 (PST)

  • Bioinformatics was not in my awareness as an undergraduate. The Human Genome Project had only just gotten started and I only heard about that once I got to graduate school. When I was an undergraduate, I worked in a plant physiology lab that was studying photosystem II in chloroplasts. I had heard about the RNA world hypothesis from my biochemistry professor and that really intrigued me, but none of my coursework even considered the topic. Kam D. Dahlquist (talk) 15:11, 30 January 2020 (PST)

What was your favorite science class in undergrad? Favorite non-science course? Jennymchua (talk) 20:36, 1 February 2020 (PST)