Congratulations to Jake Wolpe, recipient of a fellowship from the American Indian Graduate Center

Jake Wolpe was awarded a fellowship from the American Indian Graduate Center in 2020. Jake is wrapping up a bioinformatics project with Mike Guertin who is currently at the University of Connecticut. The broad focus of his research is applying machine learning models to biased data in order to determine ground truth and eliminate biases. Specifically, his work examines and corrects the sequence bias inherent in Tn5 transposase insertion into DNA substrate. Tn5 transposase insertion is used frequently to determine which regions of DNA a cell is accessing, an assay known as ATAC-seq. Data from ATAC-seq allows scientists to understand how a cell responds to stimuli, how developing organisms differentiate cells into tissues or how cancers grow. Unfortunately, Tn5 transposase has a preference for specific DNA sequences. This means that insertion is not random, and output data needs to be adjusted for this partiality. Previous algorithmic attempts to remedy enzymatic sequence preference successfully corrected simpler nuclease biases, but failed to address the complexity of Tn5 transposase sequence bias. Jake’s work has focused on resolving transposase bias using statistical inference to model and correct Tn5 sequence bias and provide meaningful insights when using ATAC-seq data. Jake feels strongly that one of the most noble pursuits of our society is the reduction of suffering. He shared that science allows him to apply his curiosity-driven interests toward work that contributes to a better future. He noted that, although his research doesn’t directly aim to cure a specific disease, being part of a greater scientific system which assimilates work like his into cures has been personally meaningful. It is in this context that he is motivated to indulge his scientific curiosity for new information, technologies and understanding of the natural world. When asked about his future goals, Jake stated that he has many. One of his professional goals is to find employment at an organization where he can see a direct contribution of his work to improving the wellbeing of others. During the recent pandemic, he was moved by the hard work of many scientists who were able to produce a vaccine and then a treatment for a novel virus, saving many lives. He hopes to one day be a part of such efforts. As a PhD student, he also looks forward to one day being able to mentor and teach others with similar ambitions.