“I tried my best to avoid biology classes during my undergraduate studies; back then it was difficult to persuade me from anything that wasn’t engineering related” pouts Jaaved. Trained in Computer Science and Mathematics from the University of Florida, Jaaved first got excited about Computational Biology during his junior year in college. “I’d read about the Human Genome Sequencing Project and when the CS department decided to first offer a bioinformatics course, I enrolled immediately. Though it was fairly general, I saw a wealth of avenues to apply the theoretical and applied skills I had acquired,” says Jaaved.
However, unwilling to deviate from his initial interest, after graduating he spent 3 years in the software development industry before deciding to go back to school. Just around the time when the genomics field was starting to become defined with high Genome Wide Association Study publications and when a new mammalian species’ DNA sequence adorned the covers of Science and Nature, Jaaved decided to take Biology classes while working full time, and applying for graduate school. “I knew I had to choose an institution that allowed me great flexibility in defining my own hybrid project. The Tri-Institutional franchise in general spoke out to me, but Cornell University’s prestigious Computer Science and Biological Statistics departments and their faculty really motivated me to apply.”
Besides all the other benefits of the program, Jaaved notes that his most rewarding experience has been his interaction with the faculty. “From interviewing, through rotations, and choosing a thesis lab, I found the faculties of all three institutions go well above the requirement of making your feel comfortable, valued, and successful both in their labs and in your graduate school career.” Jaaved is now a member in the lab of Dr. Adam Siepel. He uses comparative genomics methods to understand the complex dynamics of gene regulation by examining the molecular evolution of transcription factors and siRNAs. He hopes to perform his post-doctorship in one of the prestigious lab of his collaborators and then move on to academia. “I’ve been given this remarkable opportunity and environment to thrive in, how can I not succeed?”