I’m a data scientist at Phylagen, a data analytics company leveraging machine learning to harness the vast, unseen world of microbiomes. Every day I get to work with large NGS datasets, combining my love for bioinformatics, big data, and biodiversity.
My background is in evolutionary biology, with deep knowledge of bioinformatics, genomics, phylogenomics, and computational biology. I started my academic career as a molecular systematist studying plants in the high Andes and developed novel approaches to generate genomic data quickly and cost effectively. With all the data I was generating, programming became a useful tool and later one of my passions.
When I am not analyzing data, I enjoys traveling, running, and photography. I have lived in three different continents, backpacked around the world twice visiting over 35 countries, and have had photos featured by Lonely Planet and NPR.
I received a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Idaho (2014), where I worked with Dr. David Tank on the evolution of the plant group Neobartsia and the development of novel high-throughput sequencing methods. I got my B.Sc. in Biology, specializing in botany, from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia (2008). As an undergraduate, I studied abroad (2004-2005) at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, where I worked at the Institut für Spezielle Botanik, and I was a research intern at the Harvard University Herbarium and the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) (2008). Finally, I conducted postdoctoral research in bioinformatics and computational biology at the University of Missouri – St. Louis and at the University of Michigan (2015-2018).
Genomics, Bioinformatics, and Phylogenomics
I developed two approaches to generate genomic data quickly and cost effectively during my Ph.D. One uses microfluidic PCR and the other one long-PCR to amplify genomic targets, and both get sequenced on a high-throughput platform. It resulted in two publications (Uribe-Convers et al., 2016, Uribe-Convers et al., 2014) and you can read more about them on my academic research page.
Systematics and Evolution
For most of my academic career (undergraduate and Ph.D.) I worked on the plant group Neobartsia, driving >15,000 miles through the Andes doing fieldwork, working in the lab, and doing research in molecular systematics, phylogenomics, and macroevolution. I published many scientific articles and even described a new species to science!
Ancient DNA from the Clarkia Fossil Bed
I worked on extracting, amplifying, and sequencing DNA from very old (~15 million years!) plants. The Clarkia fossil bed, located in Clarkia, Idaho, has the perfect conditions needed to preserve unoxidized plant tissue that is suitable for molecular techniques.
The videos below show how we removed the plant tissue from the rocks and the episode of “Plants Are Cool, Too!”, where this work was featured. Super Cool!