BOSC 2015 Keynote Speakers

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BOSC 2015 is pleased to announce the following keynote speakers:

Holly Bik

Holly Bik

Dr Holly Bik is a Birmingham Fellow (assistant professor) in the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham, UK. She obtained her Ph.D. in molecular phylogenetics at the University of Southampton, UK (working in conjunction with the Natural History Museum, London), followed by subsequent postdoctoral appointments at the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies at the University of New Hampshire and the UC Davis Genome Center.

Her research uses high-throughput environmental sequencing approaches (rRNA surveys, metagenomics) to explore biodiversity and biogeographic patterns in microbial eukaryote assemblages, with an emphasis on nematodes in marine sediments. Through active collaborations with computer scientists and participation in software development projects, her long-term research aims to address existing bottlenecks encountered in –Omic analyses focused on microbial eukaryotes.

Holly's keynote talk topic is "Bioinformatics: Still a scary world for biologists".

Many biological disciplines remain staunchly traditional, where high-throughput DNA sequencing and bioinformatics have not yet become widely adopted. In this talk, I'll discuss the ongoing challenges and barriers facing biologists in the age of 'Omics, based on my experiences in transitioning from nematode taxonomy to computational biology research.

Homepage: Holly Bik, Twitter: @hollybik


Ewan Birney

Ewan Birney


Dr Ewan Birney is Joint Associate Director of EMBL-EBI, as well as Interim Head of the Centre for Therapeutic Target Validation. Together with Dr Rolf Apweiler, he has strategic responsibility and oversight for bioinformatics services at EMBL-EBI.

Ewan played a vital role in annotating the genome sequences of the human, mouse, chicken and several other organisms; this work has had a profound impact on our understanding of genomic biology. He led the analysis group for the ENCODE project, which is defining functional elements in the human genome. He was also one of the leaders of the BioPerl project. Ewan’s main areas of research include functional genomics, assembly algorithms, statistical methods to analyse genomic information (in particular information associated with individual differences) and compression of sequence information.

He has received a number of prestigious awards including the 2003 Francis Crick Award from the Royal Society, the 2005 Overton Prize from the International Society for Computational Biology and the 2005 Benjamin Franklin Award for contributions in Open Source Bioinformatics. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014.

Ewan was a cofounder of the Open Bioinformatics Foundation, the organization that sponsors BOSC, and has been involved in BOSC since the first conference in 2000. He chaired the meeting in 2001, and gave one of the keynote talks in 2002. We are delighted to have him back as a keynote speaker for 2015.

Ewan's talk title is "Big Data in Biology".

Molecular biology is now a leading example of a data intensive science, with both pragmatic and theoretical challenges being raised by data volumes and dimensionality of the data. These changes are present in both “large scale” consortia science and small scale science, and across now a broad range of applications – from human health, through to agriculture and ecosystems. All of molecular life science is feeling this effect. This shift in modality is creating a wealth of new opportunities and has some accompanying challenges. In particular there is a continued need for a robust information infrastructure for molecular biology. This ranges from the physical aspects of dealing with data volume through to the more statistically challenging aspects of interpreting it. A particular problem is finding causal relationships in the high level of correlative data. Genetic data are particular useful in resolving these issues. I will end with the serendipitous invention of using DNA for an entirely different reason – as a long-time horizon digital archiving material. I will describe this method and some of its benefits (as well as a few downsides) and explain how a future culture in 10,000 years time may still be able to read all of Shakespeare’s sonnets – and perhaps much more.

Homepage: Ewan Birney, Twitter: @ewanbirney


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