The Harker School
San Jose, CA

Joe Vitti
Infectious Disease Initiative

Andrew became interested in science as a middle school student when he conducted a simple project on bacterial resistance to household soaps. Ever since, he has held a deep passion for research and has worked on a variety of computational biology projects throughout high school. He loves the thrill of making discoveries, devising innovative methods to solve problems, and overcoming obstacles.

Andrew’s project revolved around evolutionary biology. Although evolutionary forces play a central role in driving progress, little is known about their precise mechanisms. Andrew developed a comprehensive machine learning approach to identify mutations under natural selection. His models successfully classified 95-97% of selected single nucleotide polymorphisms and identified interesting variants in genes related to immune response, metabolic processes, sensory perceptions, and nervous system development. “Such research allows us to understand why our bodies are the way they are, examine our ancestors’ responses to selective pressures, and illuminate mechanisms through which we can adapt to modern-day challenges, such as infectious disease, climate change, and diet alteration,” said Andrew.

Andrew really enjoyed the sense of community at the Broad. He felt his lab members were extremely supportive and provided him with some great opportunities. This summer significantly impacted Andrew’s personal goals. Interacting with scientists and observing the various angles from which they approach challenges has inspired him to further pursue scientific research, and he hopes to major in either computer science or bioinformatics in college.