Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science

Worcester, MA

Vivian Hecht, Noam Shoresh, Rui Yang, Polina Shpilker, and Kevin Dong
Epigenomics Program

Genetic information in the nucleus of cells is organized into chromatin, which consists of DNA molecules arranged around proteins called histones.  The ability of genes encoded in DNA to be converted to RNA and protein depends in part on how tightly DNA is wound around histones, which may be chemically modified to cause the DNA to wind more tightly or loosely.  Sreshtaa worked with an algorithm that her research group had developed to analyze chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) data, which is used to identify regions of DNA enriched with particular histone modifications.  Sreshtaa wrote a pipeline to implement and test the algorithm on a set of data previously unexplored by her research group, and developed a quantitative metric to determine whether the algorithm could be used successfully on this new dataset.  Using this quantitative metric, as well as qualitative approaches, Sreshtaa concluded that the algorithm worked as well on the new datasets as it had on the ones previously evaluated by members of her research group.  

Sreshtaa found a home-away-from-home while working at the Broad, attending many group functions, seminars, and even an outing to the Boston Harbor Islands with her research group. “I loved the experience so much that it's hard to choose one particular aspect that I enjoyed the most," said Sreshtaa. "Everyone supported me and was always ready to give a helping hand, but they also pushed me into doing things that I didn’t think I could, such as becoming proficient enough in two programming languages so that I could complete my project! I came here for science, but I left with some lifetime connections and friends."