Research Experiences for Undergrads in the Warnow Lab

Research Overview

My research is in three areas: computational biology, scientometrics, and historical linguistics. I enjoy working with undergraduates, but I require that students have completed a graduate course in these topics (CS 581: Algorithmic Genomic Biology or CS 598: Computational Scientometrics). Research in my lab for these areas involves algorithm design and implementation, so students who are strong programmers and meticulous experimentalists are welcome. However, in all these cases, there is required coursework that you must have before working with me, as indicated below. Thus, if you have not completed the required coursework, please understand that I will ask you to complete the coursework before we can begin working together. You will also need to provide the information requested in the "How to apply" section, listed below.

Interested in applying?

CS/ECE/Stats/Math students: Note that you do not need to know any biology to do this research! To succeed in this research you should have very strong programming skills (especially in Python), be interested in challenging yourself, good at working with others and also independently, and have strong communication skills (both oral and written).

Biology students: I am also interested in working with biology undergraduate students, as long as you have practical experience in phylogeny estimation or multiple sequence alignment, and your research interests involve doing analyses of this type. Let me know what you would like to do reseach on, and how it fits into my research.

Papers to read: Before you apply to work with me, please first read a few of my recent papers. The following is a good representative of the kinds of work I am doing (the parenthetical numbers refer to the number in my online publication list):

Possible research projects: I am open to many different possible research projects, but the most likely ones to succeed would be ones where you would work with one of my current PhD students. However, if you have something specific in mind, please let me know what you would like to do. Here are some types of research projects that I would be glad to support:

Here are two examples of publications done by undergraduate students with me:

Doing a research project with me involves a substantial commitment. Research students have individual meetings (at least weekly, but more often when you are implementing and testing methods, or writing up results for publication) with me and one or more of my graduate students. It will also involve attendance in weekly group meetings. I provide mentoring in learning how to present research results, analyze data, read scientific papers, and design methods. In other words, being a research student involves a substantial effort and time commitment on your part, but also from me and from graduate students in my group.

How to apply

I receive many applications for research positions in my lab, and can only accept students who are serious about the effort involved and where there is a good fit with my group. Also note that I will not consider your application unless you have taken the required courses (CS 581 for students interested in computational biology, and CS 598: Computational Scientometrics for students interested in scientometrics). Please send me an email with your current transcript, and an answer to the following questions:

Summer 2019 REU students

During the summer 2019 semester, I worked with 10 undergraduate students (all from UIUC). These REU students learned the mathematical foundations of the material, which is covered in my textbook. In addition, they looked at the lectures for CS 581, and did modified homeworks (suitable for undergrads), which are available at this page. Finally, they did some research projects, which are described in my notes on first projects.

My textbook: Computational Phylogenetics: An introduction to designing methods for phylogeny estimation, published by Cambridge University Press.