Graduate Alumna Focus | Destinee Morrow
Hood graduate student, Destinee Morrow, received a Master's in Bioinformatics in May 2020. She recently worked on a collaborative research project between the Berkeley National Lab and the Veterans Affairs.
Destinee Morrow, Bioinformatics, M.S.'20
- Bioinformatics (M.S.)
- Computer Science & Information Technology
"Hood College taught me all I needed to know about research, proposal-writing, coding, and so much more. There is not one class that I do not use on a daily basis to help me with my current research."
Please provide a brief education and career background.
When I graduated with my associates in Biology from Hagerstown Community College, I moved down to North Carolina to finish my bachelors in Animal Science at North Carolina State University, But before leaving for NC, I worked at an animal hospital and quickly realized that while I loved animals immensely, I did not want to be a small animal veterinarian anymore.
I decided to tune my gears for research and decided I would get my PhD in animal reproduction and physiology.
Long story short, I changed my path multiple times but somehow ended up exactly where I wanted and needed to be.
How did you end up choosing Hood College for your Master's degree journey?
After doing some research, I decided to get my Masters in Biotechnology. While applying to master’s programs in Maryland, I spoke with Director and Professor Miranda Darby.
She made a compelling story as to why I should consider Bioinformatics instead of Biotechnology. I was sold. So I went into the program with a degree in Animal Science and Biology, and I loved every second of it.
What made the Bioinformatics field interesting to you?
I have always been a techy person because I grew up in that era.
I wanted a way to be involved in research. Bioinformatics lets me work directly with the data and produce meaningful results.
I cannot talk about this enough when I say there is a disconnect between the researchers who have a background in biology and the computer scientists performing the analysis who know little to nothing about biology.
Bioinformaticians are that bridge. We need more of them. Collaboration is everything when it comes to research, and we need those minds who can help with both ends.
You were recently working on a collaborative research project between the Berkeley National Lab and the Veterans Affairs. Could you tell us more about this project?
I took CS 527 Data Science as an elective course in my final semester at Hood College. The instructor of the class, Dr. Xinlian Liu, asked me whether I would like to go to California for a summer internship at the Berkeley National Lab (LBNL). Of course I said yes. I applied for the SRP internship which is hosted by the Computational Research Division at LBNL. Another professor I had a class with at Hood, Dr. Ravichandran Sarangan of the Frederick National Lab, also provided me a strong recommendation.
The project that I am currently working on with LBNL, the VA and the DOE has to do with veteran suicide prevention. On average, 17 veterans take their life daily and we are trying to reduce those numbers. Using Natural Language Processing, specifically LDA Topic modeling, I have put together a model that is successful at pulling out topics that predict high risk subjects.
Since I started as an intern, I have been working with MIMICiii data. I am currently working on obtaining access to the VA enclave at ORNL, and hope to ingress this model. We save lives at my job, and I could not be prouder to be on this team.
Thank you Dr. Xinlian Liu for introducing me to Dr. Silvia Crivelli. And thank you Dr. Crivelli for welcoming me with open arms into the team.
How did you Hood degree prepared you for a start of a great career?
Hood College taught me all I needed to know about research, proposal-writing, coding, and so much more. There is not one class that I do not use on a daily basis to help me with my current research.