Alyssa Funk

Future PhD


About me:

I started my research career in a Saccharomyces cerevisiae lab in Boston. When I got homesick for California and applied to PhD programs back on the west coast, I was invited to join a lab studying neuroepigenetics in primary neurons. The jump from baker's yeast to a rat model with a nervous system was not as shocking as I expected, who knew a molecular biology background was so versatile? ;)

It was another big change to go from neuroscience and tissue culture into a computational biology lab. When I joined, basically all I knew of programming was how to open a terminal on my computer. Although it took some time to go from wondering about "four loops??" to understanding "for loops" and coding, I have finally found my scientific home in human population genetics.


I have journeyed through different types of labs, gaining experience with several model organisms and becoming proficient in a variety of wet lab techniques. I have more wet lab experience than many other "dry lab" researchers I meet in my current field of computational biology. I love that my combination of backgrounds gives me a unique perspective. I started with yeast, asking basic molecular questions using a model organism with many established tools for genetic manipulation. From there I moved to a more complicated system, primary neurons, molding the things I had learned in yeast to the far more delicate model of tissue culture. Now that I'm studying human genetics, my molecular biology background gives me the insight to ask (and answer) exciting new questions.