Department of Biology, Supervisor: Jonathan Stone
Email: disanzga [ AT ] mcmaster [ DOT ] ca
I am a proud member of the McMaster Collaborative Graduate Program in Astrobiology. My undergraduate education focused on biology and biochemistry, with additional interest in astronomy and physics. Discovering the Origins Institute provided an invaluable opportunity to study a synthesis of the topics that were of greatest interest to me. The Origins Institute also presented something unique within the realm of academia: true collaboration between many researchers among different topics in pursuit of the answers to fundamental questions in science such as: where do we come from? How did we get here?
My graduate studies focused on a blend of astrophysics and cellular/evolutionary biology, with a thesis on computational analyses of the genetic code. By ranking the Standard Genetic Code (SGC) against alternative Hypothetical genetic codes (HGCs), we can deduce whether there are any alternative codes with superior organization and error minimization. A greater understanding of this type of organization within the genetic code can aid researchers in devising models for how amino acids and precursor molecules originally interacted.
My future interests include pursuing a PhD and continuing to perform research within the realm of Astrobiology. The Origins Institute has been vital to my academic career thus far, and has brought me a great measure of happiness and satisfaction. I would highly recommend the Origins Institute and its Collaborative Graduate Program in Astrobiology to any future students.