Kevin Liu, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, has been awarded a two-year, $175,000 grant from the National Science Foundation as part of its Computer and Information Science and Engineering Research Initiation Initiative, or CRII.
The CRII grant was awarded for the project: Novel evolutionary models and algorithms to connect genomic sequence and phenotypic data.
“The project will create new statistical models and computational methods to better address two outstanding problems in evolutionary and systems biology – reconstructing the evolutionary histories of genomes and illuminating biological function encoded within genomes,” Liu said.
“A key contribution will be new computational approaches to account for the sequential ordering of information in genomes as shaped by the complex interplay of different evolutionary forces, in contrast to common simplifying assumptions that effectively ignore this linear ordering of information,” he added.
Liu noted that the models and methods hold promise to shed new light into several grand scientific challenges, including understanding human origins and uncovering the evolutionary mechanisms responsible for the spread of pesticide resistance in the wild.