Hi, I’m Chissa! I’m a PhD candidate in the Hollocher lab in the department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. Before this, I did a masters in biology at the University of Texas at Tyler. Before THAT I got a BS in Biology at UT Austin. There’s more in my CV if you’re interested. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to add new analyses to my research and how to teach other people who are intereseted in doing the same with their research. My website title comes from the time I spent in the service industry - all of my bachelor’s and master’s and more before that. For those unfamiliar, ‘on the fly’ is what you say when you need something fast…like if you forget to put in an order for a customer - which I unfortunately was guilty of quite a lot. Fortunately, the skills I depend on when coding rely little on my memory skills.
I use gut and oral microbiome (amplicon) data from long-tailed macaques in Southeast Asia to evaluate how the microbial communities here change through geographic and genetic space. I’m not only looking at the prokaryotic microbiome, but also at the eukaryotic organisms present in the form of diet and resident eukaryotes like protozoans. The protozoan genus Blastocystis is the subject of a lot of my work right now, as it’s in almost all of my samples (which makes it great target for genetic variation analyses) and has an extremely interesting pathophysiology associated with it (in humans). My research has changed a lot since I started it, which is really common for PhD students, or so my advisor tells me ;) In my pre-doctoral research, I studied the spatial distribution of arthropod pathogen vectors (Triatoma bugs and Ixodes ticks) and the gut microbiome of Triatoma bugs in Texas.
Note for biologists learning bioinfomatics
I’ve had incredible opportunities that led me here, and am extraordinarily grateful to the people who provided them. One really important thing that I’ve learned is that very few biologists have had any sort of computational training that prepared them adequately for the monumental onslaught of data we’re currently seeing. This website and the information I share on it is intended to help make the transition easier, and I welcome any suggestions or questions about content. Please enjoy and remember that most of us out here needed a lot of help when we got started, so don’t feel embarrassed about something you’re having trouble figuring out. Welcome to the community!