Spotlight on Bioinformatics Graduate Student | Conor Jenkins
"Miranda Darby, Ph.D., has been one of the most amazing mentors that I have had in Bioinformatics. I feel as if she deeply cares for everyone of us, and expects great things of her students."
Conor Jenkins, M.S. Bioinformatics
- Bioinformatics (M.S.)
- Bioinformatics (C)
- Computer Science & Information Technology
Can you give a quick bio? Any general background that you like to share, as well as your educational and career background.
I grew up in a small town outside of Scranton, PA. I then made my way up to Ithaca College in upstate New York to pursue a chemistry degree and research in Computational Chemistry. After college, I found it to be a struggle to find something that I truly wanted to do. I was working in a chemical mixing factory and knew that I did not want my career to go down that road. I then was lucky enough to get a job at the National Cancer Institute in the Proteomics core facility. I felt like I was finally in a place where I could really sink my teeth into science. It is here that I learned about Hood College and the new bioinformatics program where I could foster my biology and computer science knowledge. I then got an opportunity to join the startup called Think20 Labs. Think20 is a company that is focused on bringing the most stringent and novel testing to cannabis.
Why did you choose Hood College? How has it helped your career?
I chose Hood College because I heard how much of a family-type atmosphere exists on the campus. I could have chosen to take online classes at a different college, but there would be something missing in my education and it would feel less personal. This atmosphere and the geolocation in one of the greatest scientific locations in the U.S. has given me great hope for the science industry at large, and I have made relationships that I believe will carry my career forward greatly.
Can you tell us about the biotech startup that you are planning?
Think20 is a company that is focused on bringing the most stringent and novel testing to cannabis. We strive to provide security for both consumers and suppliers in the medicinal products that have recently flooded the United States. In the past couple of years, there have been many labs that have shut down due to their lack of knowledge of the scientific testing that is required in the regulatory space. In simpler words, there is a lot of ignorance and unprofessionalism in the industry. This unprofessionalism can create an environment where people can get hurt due to high pesticides, heavy metals, and other dangerous chemicals that could exist in the final product, but is tested by a subpar lab and makes it to market. Think20 Labs is going to change that. We plan on positioning ourselves as a disruptive force in this industry that can ensure what is on the package of the product is indeed what is going into your body. We have gathered together skilled individuals who have an extremely high pedigree across the scientific field. We have received all of the top of the line and most sensitive instruments and will be ready to open our doors for testing in the next couple of weeks.
What do you enjoy about Hood College? Do you have a favorite memory?
I mostly enjoy how much the faculty care for the students. They are really passionate about what they do, and many of them have full time jobs outside of teaching. The number of hours that they put towards us and the classes really shows me how the love of science and knowledge really brings people together. My favorite memory for Hood College is competing in the 3MT (three-minute thesis) competition that takes place on campus each year. It is understated how important it is to convey your research to someone who is not in your field quickly and efficiently. In my meetings with investors, many of them do not have the in-depth knowledge of science that we have. Thus, we need to get our point across to these individuals at a level that they understand in a concise and efficient manner.
Any other information/fun facts you would like to add?
I would like to give a few shout-outs to some professors that really impacted me during my time at Hood College. Miranda Darby, Ph.D., has been one of the most amazing mentors that I have had in Bioinformatics. I feel as if she deeply cares for everyone of us, and expects great things of her students. I can honestly say that it is absolutely infectious, and I hope to give someone the support that she has given me and everyone else in the bioinformatics community. April Boulton, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School, has been another fantastic source of support. She loves Hood College, plain and simple. She has helped me especially with the 3MT and starting the bioinformatics club. If every school had a Dr. Boulton, education would be a pleasure everywhere. Finally, it has been my pleasure to have Eckart Bindewald, Ph.D., leading a couple of my classes now. He has this raw passion and excitement for bioinformatics that makes his classes extremely enjoyable. His knowledge on the subject matter is amazing, and I love bouncing question off him and he is always delighted to answer. All these wonderful mentors and the peers that I have come into contact with, really make Hood stick out from the rest.