2019 - 2021: Single-cell Analysis Training Officer, European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI)
2016 - 2019: Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for Trophoblast Research, University of Cambridge, UK
2012 - 2016: PhD in Haematology, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge, UK
2008 - 2012: BSc in Biochemistry & Spanish, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, New York, USA
Wendi’s academic experience and research interests lie in crossing scientific disciplines. As a PhD student, she applied developmental biology techniques in a cancer context, creating mouse and cell models for infant leukemia. As a postdoc, she continued her passion for method development in applying single cell transcriptomics in a reproductive biology context, examining the developmental defects occurring in cases of birth complications such as preeclampsia or fetal growth restriction. At the EBI, Wendi bridged the gap between wet-lab researchers and computer scientists to train biologists and develop bioinformatics resources as part of the Human Cell Atlas. Ultimately, Wendi enjoys learning and applying knowledge in new ways - scientists no longer need to be single entities in dusty labs, but can share expertise and knowledge to collaborate beyond what anyone could do alone.
STEM Education for Bioinformatics
Bioinformatics is one of the biggest skill gaps in modern biology and biomedical science. The Galaxy Project is an open science consortium to create a means for scientists to analyse their big data (Omics data in particular, such as DNA or RNA sequencing) without access to heavy and expensive computational infrastructure or programming skills. By providing more flexibility and connection to users, Wendi aims to assess improvements in learning experiences and research utility for would-be-bioinformaticians, as well as widening participation, for instance in Latin America with a suite of translated tutorials.
Wendi’s particular bioinformatic skillset is in single-cell analysis. We now have the technology to isolate all of the RNA from a single cell, across thousands (or even millions!) of cells in a tissue or body. With such quantities of data, comes challenging data analysis. The analytical field is moving quickly to try and best answer many questions, for instance, “How many cell types are there in a human lung?” or “Which cell is affected by this oncogene?”, or “How does this drug affect the RNA and DNA of a cell?”. Wendi is collaborating with multiple members of the LHCS community to provide bioinformatics analysis for wet-lab work, as well as repurposing publicly available data to answer novel questions.
Widening participation for women in sport
Outside of science, Wendi is a martial arts instructor, aiming at widening participation for underprivileged groups. With an emphasis on tradition and qualification outside of the modern coaching professional development, martial arts can both offer excellent mental and physical health benefits, as well as provide unsafe environments or outdated practices in training. As part of a wider multidisciplinary collaboration, Wendi is aiming to study the effect of this phenomenon of tradition versus innovation, and the impact on diversity and participation of women in combat sport.
Within the health sciences modules, Wendi will be providing quantitative analysis and bioinformatics elements to upskill students for the careers of tomorrow. Additionally, she remains active with the Galaxy Training Network, providing resources and tutorials for scientists across the globe.
Sarah Morgan, Cath Brooksbank, Irene Papatheodorou and Pablo Moreno (EMBL-EBI, UK)
Helena Rasche & Saskia Hiltemann (Erasmus-MC, Netherlands)
Mehmet Tekman & Beatriz Serrano-Solano (University of Freiberg)
Rowan Wilson (Physio-Fit, Cambridge, UK)