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Blending Biology and Big Data

Biology professor is part of a new wave of computer-savvy scientists.

“Technology is rewriting the rules of biological research,” says Yasir Ahmed-Braimah, assistant professor of biology in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Whereas evolutionary geneticists used to have lots of theory and little data, we’re now inundated by data.”

A computational and evolutionary genomicist, Ahmed-Braimah is part of a new wave of scientists translating Big Data into genetic insights. Much of his work takes place in the Center for Reproductive Evolution, where emerging technologies and advanced algorithms provide a rare glimpse into cellular and molecular mechanisms. Tasks that used to take years to complete, like assembling an organism’s genome, are now accomplished in days or weeks.

Such scholarship gives fresh meaning to biodiversity and problems facing humanity, like disease and climate change. “As a professor, I have a responsibility to lead in the classroom,” he says, “and to make an impact in the world.”

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Ahmed-Braimah, Pitnick, and Dorus pose together for an image.

Center for Reproductive Evolution

The Center for Reproductive Evolution translates big data into genetic insights.

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