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Keynote 3

Problems, Challenges and Opportunities in Exploring the "Dark Matter" of Life Sciences: The Microbiome


Ananth Kalyanaraman
Boeing Centennial Chair in Computer Science, Associate Professor, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Washington State University, USA


Often labeled as the "dark matter" of the life sciences, the term microbiome refers to the universe of microbes that inhabit the various environment habitats that surround us and present within us. Yet we know very little about this microbial universe. Rapid advances in high-throughput sequencing and other technologies over the decade are changing that. New data from previously unsequenced habitats are being sampled to previously unprecedented depths. This has aptly led to an immense interest among computer scientists and biologists to combine their expertise in pursuit of developing new tools and implementing new functions geared towards acquiring fundamental insights into the mechanics of microbial machinery. In this talk, we will visit problems, challenges and an outlook on the promises and opportunities of this emerging branch within computational life sciences. More specifically, we will focus on the computational techniques that have been developed and their applications. What we are yet to learn from these microbial communities could have a significant impact on how we shape our future.


Ananth Kalyanaraman’s main research interest is in building high performance computational tools for solving data-driven and data-intensive problems within the life sciences. He is an Associate Professor and Boeing Centennial Chair in Computer Science at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in Washington State University. He received his Bachelor of Engineering from Visvesvaraya National Institute Technology in Nagpur (India) in 1998, and his PhD from Iowa State University in 2006. Ananth is a recipient of a DOE Early Career Award, Early Career Impact Award from Iowa State University, and two best paper awards. He has organized several workshops and mini-symposia relating to high performance computational biology and Big Data techniques for the life sciences at IEEE, ACM and SIAM conferences. Ananth is a member of AAAS, ACM, IEEE-CS, and ISCB.