James Taylor receives NIH Grand Opportunity (GO) grant
news Published Date: 2009-10-30
James Taylor, Assistant Professor of Math & Computer Science and Biology, is lead PI on a recently awarded NIH "GO" grant titled "Dynamically scalable accessible analysis for next generation sequence data". Emory, Penn State, and Georgia Tech are collaborating institutions on this exciting project that brings gene sequence analysis within easy reach by leveraging "Cloud Computing" technologies. GO grants are highly competitive awards made under the NIH stimulus program; projects are selected for the high short-term impact. More details on Professor Taylor's research can be found at
Professor James Taylor profiled on the eScienceCommons blog
news Published Date: 2009-10-20
Bug splatter study is data driven

The next time you take a road trip, think before you clean the bug splatter off your car. Those insect remains may actually be more interesting than your vacation photos.

“It turns out that your car is a sampling device for understanding the biodiversity of all the places you’ve been,” says James Taylor, a computational biologist at Emory.

Genome Research recently published a paper by Taylor and collaborators that applied advanced DNA sequencing techniques that are traditionally used on microbial samples to look at insect biodiversity. “We were curious whether these techniques would work for more complex organisms,” Taylor says.

To collect genetic material for the study they used the bumper and windshield of a moving vehicle. Two samples were collected: on a drive from Pennsylvania to Connecticut, and on a trip from Maine to New Brunswick, Canada.

“We found that there is a huge amount of insect diversity, but what was really surprising was to see the enormous amount of novel sequence,” Taylor says. “It’s indicative of how poorly we have sampled the whole tree of life in genome research so far. There’s an enormous amount of species out there.”

Road tested

Taylor is a co-developer of Galaxy, an open-source software system for analyzing genetic data. The Galaxy developers recently refined the system, creating the Galaxy metagenomic pipeline that allows a research team to integrate all of the data, analyses and workflows of a study, and then publish this material as a live online supplement.

The bug splatter paper served as the first test of the metagenomic pipeline. “I believe that this study is one of the most transparent and reproducible bioinformatics papers ever,” Taylor says. “Anyone can go online, follow links and see every step of our analysis and exactly what parameters were used. And they can take our data and do their own analysis of other questions.”

No computational experience is required to use the free Galaxy system, Taylor says. “All of science is becoming computationally intensive, so tools like this are needed to improve transparency.”

DNA sequencing technology is getting cheaper, opening more doors for research by small investigators, and Taylor is focused on serving this niche.

“Nowadays, you can have a crazy idea like studying bug splatter and without a lot of money or work, you can go out and do it just to see what’s there,” he says.
Visiting Professor Suresh Venapally receives Bhatnagar award
news Published Date: 2009-10-15
Suresh Venapally, a visiting professor in the department for the 2009-10 year, was recently named as one of only eleven recipients of the prestigious Bhatnagar award in 2009. The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards for Science and Technology are given to scientists below 45 years of age, for their outstanding scientific contributions made primarily in India during the last 5 years proceeding the year of the Prize. The SSB Prize comprises a citation, a plaque and a cash award of Rs.5,00,000/- , and are given to the recipients by the Prime Minister of India. The department offers hearty congratulations to Suresh!
Jim Nagy wins Distinguished Alumnus Award
news Published Date: 2009-10-15
Professor James Nagy was recently conferred a Distinguished Alumnus Award by his undergraduate and MS institution, Northern Illinois University. Nagy was recognized as an internationally recognized leader in the field of digital image processing and restoration. Nagy has been at Emory University since 1999 and has contributed significantly to the department's programs and to graduate student advising. The faculty, staff and students of the department offer their warm congratulations to Professor Nagy on this recognition. More details can be found at
Manjul Bhargava to lecture
news Published Date: 2009-10-14
Professor Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University will speak on "Counting problems in number theory" at 5:30pm on Thursday, October 15th, in MSC E208. He is well known for his research achievements (leading to many prizes such as the Cole Prize for number theory), for his writing (for which he was awarded the Merten M. Hasse Prize), and for his clear and engaging talks. This talk is aimed at a general mathematical audience and will be understandable by undergraduate math majors.
Li Xiong receives Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship
news Published Date: 2009-09-01
The department congratulates Dr. Li Xiong for receiving a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. This prestigious fellowship is awarded nationally to 20 junior faculty members each year in the social and natural sciences and the humanities. The award provides a year of leave to Dr. Xiong to work on her project, which focuses on private and confidential information sharing in distributed healthcare information systems.
Professor Ron Gould profiled on the eScienceCommons blog
news Published Date: 2009-08-18
Math's in your cards, so deal with it

A 17th-century French gambler helped spark the modern theory of probability, says Ron Gould, author of the newly published "Mathematics in Games, Sports and Gambling: The Games People Play."

The textbook, based on Gould's popular freshmen seminar by the same name, reveals elementary probability theory and discrete mathematics through card tricks, dice rolling, baseball and other sports and games.

The aim is to help students develop a more logical, questioning approach to solving problems. "And, I hope they have a good time," adds Gould, a Goodrich C. White Professor of Mathematics who has taught at Emory for 30 years.

Skip Garibaldi Named Winship Distinguished Professor of Mathematics
news Published Date: 2009-06-25
Professor Skip Garibaldi is the recipient of a Winship Distinguished Research Award. These awards, named for Emory alumnus and former Board of Trustees secretary Charles T. Winship, recognize faculty who “demonstrate singular accomplishments in research.” The awards, given for a three-year term, honor achievement and promise in research and research-based teaching. Only three awards are given each year, and only nine faculty members hold this honor at any given time. The department heartily congratulates Professor Garibaldi on this well-deserved recognition
Evans/Hall Speaker Announced!
news Published Date: 2009-04-28
The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is pleased to announce the 15th annual Evans/Hall Lecture and Award Ceremony on Tuesday, April 28 from 4-5pm in E208, Mathematics and Science Center, with Reception following. Our speaker this year will be Jeff Brock of Brown University.

The Evans/Hall Lecture honors graduate and undergraduate students in the department and recognizes outstanding student accomplishments via the Trevor Evans Award, Deborah Jackson Award, Marshall Hall Award, and Departmental Awards.
Yandong Liu & Qi Guo recognized in Yahoo!'s Scientific Challenges Program
news Published Date: 2009-04-13
The Department of Mathematics & Computer Science would like to congratulate Yandong Liu and Qi Guo for being chosen as two of twenty PhD students who have been selected to be part of Yahoo!'s Key Scientific Challenges (KSC) program. Supporting the academic community is a top priority at Yahoo!. Yahoo! created the KSC Program to support a limited number of outstanding PhD students who they believe are doing research in very important and challenging areas. The Program provides each student with $5,000 of unrestricted funds for the support of their research activities (e.g., conference fees and travel, lab materials, professional society membership dues, etc.).

As part of this program, students also receives an exclusive invitation to a unique workshop (most likely to be held in August in Sunnyvale, California), where they will focus on novel disciplines and important technical challenges for the Internet research community, slanted specifically for graduate students whose innovative work is just emerging.

Both students began their studies in 2007 and are members of the IR lab and are advised by Professor Eugene Agichtein .