Dr. Lourdes Peña-Castillo holds a bachelor of information systems engineering from Mexico’s Technological Institute of Monterrey, and a MSc. and Ph.D in Computer Science from the University of Alberta and Otto-von-Guericke Universität Magdeburg in Germany, respectively.
She followed her studies with a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto's Banting and Best Department of Medical Research and a position as a research associate at the National Research Council of Canada’s Institute for Information Technology.
Upon beginning her employment as an assistant professor jointly appointed between the departments of Computer Science and Biology on July 1, 2010, Dr. Peña-Castillo brought a new area of expertise to Memorial University.
“Bioinformatics is the application and development of computer science resources – software, databases, algorithms and analysis approaches – for solving biological problems,” she explains.
“I focus mostly on genomics, which is concerned with genes' functions, and genetic variations and their impact. Large scale biological experiments produce thousands of data points and you need computers to analyze that data.”
Her research puts her in close collaboration with researchers from computer science, biology, biochemistry and medicine. She is currently developing bioinformatics courses using an interdisciplinary approach that, starting in Fall 2011,will see students from computer science and biology together in the same classroom.
“The interdisciplinary approach for bioinformatics is so important the students need to start early to learn to collaborate with people in the other fields that converge in bioinformatics.”