Interview: ‘The amount of data transferred by viruses could be the biggest collection of data in the world’
This is an interview with a PhD student of the Complex Systems & Metagenomics projects in a series of background articles. Keep following this website for the next interview in this series.
Interview with Ling-Yi Wu, PhD student of the Prepared for anything: detection and interpretation of novel viruses by metagenomics project at Utrecht University.
Combining her knowledge of viruses and data, Ling-Yi Wu is developing computational pipelines that biologists can use to study viruses and microbes.
‘A huge amount of genetic information is transferred by viruses each day, maybe even more than the amount of data transferred by global internet traffic each month. I find this fascinating. I have a background in viral biology and ecology and I learned about data analysis during my Master’s. I linked viral sequence data to their potential microbial host data and environmental factors and found interesting relationships there, which was really exciting.
The goal of my PhD project is to find interactions between viruses and their microbial hosts and see how these interactions might influence the higher organisms’ health. To achieve this goal, I am aiming to build customised computational pipelines that biologists can use to study viruses. There are many tools for the identification and interpretation of viruses, but their performance varies and scientists may not always know how they work. The pipeline will assist them. It will perform various tasks: getting rid of bad sequences, identifying viruses, classifying their taxonomy, finding their hosts and much more.
My time as a PhD student has been very good so far. I became a board member of Young NCOH, so I organise events and get to know people this way. This will help my PhD project too, because I am always looking for colleagues within NCOH to collaborate with. Anyone is welcome to reach out to me to work together!’
PhD project: Prepared for anything: detection and interpretation of novel viruses by metagenomics.