Get to know: Ben Weaver

Ben Weaver earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is currently working on a Ph.D. Thanks to a unique partnership between UAB and HudsonAlpha, he is supplementing his genetics education by working in Greg Cooper’s lab.

Q: What led you to HudsonAlpha?
I was given the opportunity to receive training at HudsonAlpha as a graduate student in UAB’s genetics and genomic sciences program. In fact, the UAB-HudsonAlpha connection factored heavily in my decision to choose UAB for graduate school.

Q: What is your role in the lab?
I am working in the Cooper lab, developing and deploying computational tools to study genome-wide, genetic variations underlying patterns of gene regulation in humans. 

Q: Why is this research important?
By getting at the basic features of human gene regulation we will be able to better understand the mechanisms of complex human traits and diseases, providing leads in the development of treatments for conditions with gene regulatory origins.

Q: How did your previous professional experiences prepare you for this role?
In all honesty, I had little professional experience to prepare me for this work at HudsonAlpha. It was partly my lack of experience that made the opportunity to come here so appealing; I wanted to gain expertise in an interesting field that was largely outside my purview.

Q: What sparked your passion for science and what keeps it strong?
If we’re talking about first causes it’s difficult to answer why I am interetested in science. I’ve always been inquisitive, and science is a natural outlet for those who enjoy thinking about and asking questions on the nature of things. In recent years I have been inspired by the incredible genome informatics resources generated by institutes like HudsonAlpha. The relatively new ability to ask tractable questions about genome-wide features drives my interest in the science I’m working on. 

Q: What is the best part of your job?
I find it particularly gratifying to generate visualizations based on the data I work with. To me, complex data and concepts make the most sense when represented visually. 

Q: What do you like best about working at HudsonAlpha?
Working at HudsonAlpha has put me in contact with a fantastic collection of people from both the nonprofit and for-profit sides of the institute, and I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such interesting and fun people. 

Q: Anything else you’d like to share that most people might not know about you?
I am an avid collector of fountain pens. Although I spend much of my waking life in front of a computer, I find there is no substitute for writing by hand with a good pen. Ironically, my handwriting is barely legible.