Chief Architect at BC Hydro, specialized in IT Strategies
Professor in Machine Learning at the Illinois Institute of Technology
Professor in Bioethics at the University of British Columbia
Professor in Economics and Vice President for Research at Universidad del Pacífico
Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia
Senior lecturer in Biology at the University of East Anglia
Mr. Shahid is the Chief Architect at BC Hydro and works in IT Project Management and Software Development. During our discussion, Mr. Shahid elaborated on the implications of commercial use of softwares, the API approach, Iterative Project Development, and the Scrum-based approach. We found the following points particularly helpful for our project:
Dr. Gady Agam is a Professor of Computer Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Dr. Agam provided us with valuable insight and guidance towards our project; in particular, he advised us that a bidirectional RNN could help us solve the problem of gaining information from the entire sequence.
Dr. Michael Burgess is Professor in the research Chair in Biomedical Ethics at the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, within the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. He is also Associate Provost, Strategy on the Okanagan campus. We spoke with Dr. Burgess to gain insight on the feasibility of our project and ethical challenges that we may face. He also provided valuable input on long-term implications of the pandemic. Some of the topics we discussed with Dr. Burgess that have informed our project vision are:
Dr. Beltrán is an economics professor based in Lima, Peru whose research is focused on poverty analysis and economic development. She is Vice President of research and former Dean of the School of Economics in Universidad del Pacífico (University of the Pacific) in Lima. Since our tool's implementation is aimed to be worldwide and to various socioeconomics statuses, we thought her experience could provide insight on VPRE's future in developing countries. Much of our discussion is based on the future society we envision VPRE would be implemented in, which can be explored here. The main takeaways from our interview are summarized below:
We had the wonderful opportunity to speak with an expert in epidemiology, who wishes to remain anonymous. The discussion revolved around the topics of where our software fits in vaccine development, current pandemic disease preparedness, and the potential threat of zoonotic viruses. A few of the main takeaways from our conversation are summarized below:
Dr. Lisa Crossman is a senior lecturer at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia. She is also Director at SequenceAnalysis.co.uk Genomics, where she uses computational approaches to understand DNA sequencing and metagenomic data. Our team was inspired to create a neural network based on the work of Dr. Crossman, who published a paper on using deep learning to simulate coronavirus spike proteins. A few significant points discussed in the interview are mentioned below:
We put together these infographics in early April to help inform the public on many topics related to COVID-19. Our goal was to demystify a lot of the biology surrounding the virus, and to support pandemic safety. As the current state of the world is constantly evolving, we recognize that these infographics may be somewhat outdated at this point. However, we hope they may be of use to you!
Want to use or distribute our infographics?
Download them here!
In the past, we've had the privilege of leading several workshops for Geering Up students at UBC. Geering Up is an engineering outreach program for youth that is held throughout the summer. We designed original activities such as LB-Agar plate streaking art and the conjugation game to educate and engage students with synthetic biology.
This summer, we created and delivered online workshops with Geering Up once again, with a focus on exposing students to the fascinating field of bioinformatics through the lens of genome sequence analysis.
We believe science learning can happen at any age. Children as young as pre-school age can learn some basic biology through age-appropriate resources. “The Adventures of Kleb” is a storybook written and illustrated by various members of our team in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This book aimed at pre-school age children is meant to introduce children to the world of microorganisms that exists all around us. In the future, we hope to distribute the resource to teachers and parents who can use it to further explain the need for frequent hand washing and social distancing measures that are currently in place.
Our team is incredibly passionate about science education and communication. We believe that everyone should have equal access to science and be able to develop their own scientific curiosity. To this end, we have created educational resources for children of all ages to attempt to increase their interest in science. Our team was originally conceived as a synthetic biology team, and we first aimed to spread knowledge of this field of study.
We are currently in the process of creating a resource containing information on synthetic biology targeted towards high school and university age students. Using primary research conducted through an online survey, we are able to tailor our curriculum to the needs of this particular demographic. Though our resource is currently being developed for use in the Vancouver Lower Mainland, we hope to expand it for use in not only all of Canada but eventually as many countries as possible.
Thanks to the UBC student newspaper, the Ubyssey, who interviewed with us and wrote an article about our project.
Thanks to UBC's Bioproducts Institute (BPI), who promoted our project before the summit!
Thanks to UBC Science, for tweeting our project.