Testimonial Thomas de Bruijn

Published on
May 10, 2021

I envy people that are able to spend days, weeks, even months in a laboratory without getting tired of its white walls and… ‘unique’ aromas. No no, my ideal habitat is behind the computer staring down some (hastily typed) code in R (or Python). Which is why a bioinformatics thesis at Nematology was perfect for me! Under supervision of Mark Sterken, I looked at how application of mediation analysis on Caenorhabditis elegans genetic and phenotypic data can help with the mapping of quantitative traits. Statistics and R code constituted most of my Bachelor thesis, which is probably a nightmare for a lot of people, but perfect for me. And also a perfect subject during the corona crisis.

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For my thesis, I focused on the role gene expression and genetics play in the phenotype of C. elegans. To analyze this relationship, I used mediation analysis to find out just which genes contribute the most with their expression to the phenotype. Wrapping this all up in a nice script was also a big part of the desired outcome. The first iterations of the script was very slow and cumbersome, but the final version is a lot faster – luckily – and also generates some nice graphics (who doesn’t like pretty plots!). I got to know R even better than before, which is also a very useful thing for data analysis projects in the future. Mark helped me through some of the initial and inevitable lows in doing a thesis, but I am very proud of the result and had a lot of fun working on it with him.

Some of my older peers recommended doing a thesis at Nematology, mainly because there is always supposed to be cake when it’s someone’s birthday or a holiday like Sinterklaas or Christmas. Well, COVID withheld that calorie dense tradition from me unfortunately, but I still was able to join some fun “nema social” activities and meet some of the wonderful people who work at Nematology. And even though there are already a lot of testimonials of people recommending the nematology group, I also want to add myself to this list of people, even if you have to do without the cake.