Current position: HGNC Gene Nomenclature Advisor
My background is in genetics, evolution and development. After my undergraduate degree in Genetics at the University of Otago, New Zealand, I completed a Masters degree in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University in the USA, focusing on evolution of genes controlling insect germ cell development. As side projects during my studies, I was involved in the manual gene annotation phases of the centipede (Strigamia maritima) and milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) genome sequencing projects. In 2016 I moved to the UK to take up my first biocurator position at FlyBase, University of Cambridge, where I worked on phenotype curation and ontology editing. In 2018 I became a Gene Nomenclature Advisor with the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) at EMBL-EBI, where my main focus is assigning standardized gene nomenclature in vertebrate species. My work involves identification of orthologs of human genes, in depth gene family analysis, communication with researchers, and review of gene nomenclature to ensure it is appropriate for use across vertebrates.
I have worked full time as a biocurator for three years, but I became interested in biocuration early in my graduate studies while participating in arthropod genome projects, and found that I really enjoyed this type of work. Integrating multiple sources of information and collaborating to provide a biological data resource to a wider community appealed to me, but I had no idea how to turn this into a career. Learning that there was an International Society of Biocuration was incredibly encouraging, and I joined the ISB for the first time in 2014 while I was still a student. The ISB website was a valuable resource for me when trying to learn what a career in this field might look like.
If elected to the ISB Executive Committee I hope to contribute the experiences of an early career biocurator, which could hopefully offer a fresh perspective to the committee. Despite being early in my career I have already worked within two quite different biological resources and have experience with varied types of curation. Since becoming a curator I’ve discovered that many of my former lab-based colleagues are often unaware of resources that could help them with their research, and hence I think the work of the ISB in helping to promote biocuration to other communities is incredibly important. I would be particularly interested in continuing to develop the outreach activities of the ISB.
I feel strongly that one of the most powerful activities of a professional society is to welcome newcomers and people working in different fields. I would like to see the ISB develop further in this regard and examine how we can best help this society (and its meetings) to be an enriching and inclusive space for all who have an interest in biocuration, as well as those who are established members of the community.
Conflicts of interest and other commitments