Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
Cambridge, MA

Colin Worby
Infectious Disease and Microbiome Program

The human gut microbiome is a remarkable indicator for human health: having a diverse pool of gut bacteria is positively correlated with overall health. An open question is how international travel affects the genetic diversity of the human gut microbiome. This question is especially important due to the advent of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria, as tracing whether or not travelers acquire these bacteria or not can have long-term implications for global health. Josue computationally analyzed genetic data about the gut microbiomes of recent travelers that was collected using a technique called metagenomic shotgun sequencing in order to look for patterns in the data. Specifically, Josue was interested in knowing: What kinds of bacteria did travelers acquire abroad? How long did it take to acquire these bacteria, and were they able to persist upon the traveler’s return to their country of origin? And are there any secrets hidden in the data that powerful statistical techniques such as principle coordinate analysis can tease out?

From a young age, Josue enjoyed reading about science online: “I liked to see images of the stars and planets, because science said things about space that, for me, were more incredible than fiction.” Josue decided to apply to BSSP to translate his interest in science and scientific programming to real-world problems. “For me, being at the Broad has definitely made clear that after college, I can do something science-related.”