December 20, 2018
Celine Manigbas ’20 of Floral Park, N.Y., spent last summer at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., where she learned about bioinformatics and conducted research at the Boyce Thompson Institute, a plant research facility. There, she worked to annotate the milkweed genome for gene prediction, and analyzed gene family expansion for the biosynthesis of cardenolides, a type of steroid found in plants.
It was Manigbas’ first exposure to working with extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, in this case, in plant science. “Along the way, I learned a lot about the ever-changing and advancing field through the use of different programs, and it was exciting to work with the cutting-edge programs on research that is relevant to the real world,” she said.
Prior to her Cornell internship, Manigbas was not certain which career path she wanted to take, and wondered if computational research was the right field for her. “But, after this experience, I realized that I am truly interested in going into bioinformatics,” she said.
A computer science major, Manigbas initially became interested in bioinformatics as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy participant, when she had the opportunity to speak with juniors and seniors who studied STEM at MCLA. A conversation she had with one such student, she said, gave her the courage to pursue computer science and bioinformatics.
Later, Manigbas went on to work as a STEM fellow herself, in 2017. Looking back on her experience as a participant, she said the best part was the opportunity to get to know the faculty and resources available to her at MCLA before she arrived on campus to attend classes.
“I felt more prepared for the STEM classes I would be taking,” she added. “Meeting other STEMmies and having friends in some of my classes also helped!”