About Darya Vanichkina

Feb 7, 2015 • Darya Vanichkina

Darya Vanichkina holds a Specialist degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Lomonosov Moscow State University, and is currently in the last stages of a PhD in Bioinformatics at the University of Queensland. Her work focuses on understanding which bits of the genome are used in the human and mouse nervous system and contribute to its amazing complexity; which of these bits are broken in neurological diseases such as schizophrenia, autism, multiple sclerosis and ataxia telangiectasia; and, finally, how stem cells made from cells taken from adult people (code name “induced pluripotent stem cells”) can be used to model these processes.

Darya is passionate about teaching and science outreach, because - for a girl born in the USSR - she’s had some amazing opportunities, and she believes in sharing her luck. She got into biology because of a stint with CYBZ at the Moscow Zoo - and developed the cell-and-molecular-genetics-without-the-biochemistry lecture course she’d always wanted as a school student for the club in her first year of university. After coming to Australia and learning bioinformatics as part of her PhD (bash, R, and python - and lots of genomics-specific tools), Darya began tutoring undergraduate “bioinformatics for biologists” courses at UQ, trying to make the lives of future biology researchers easier and more fun. Darya believes that (1) understanding biology can improve lives - because everyone will face disease at some point, and things are a lot less scary when you understand what is happening to your or your loved ones, and (2) having computing skills makes life so much nicer for a scientist in any discipline - by automating routine tasks, facilitating complex analyses and enabling more productive collaboration.

Darya currently lives in Brisbane, and in her free time braves the local flora and fauna - which it being the “Last Continent” sometimes tries to kill her - to go bushwalking, birdwatching and beach combing, and then tries to quantitate, analyse and visualise it all when she gets home. She also suffers from an unhealthy addiction to trying out new software.

True to her name, Darya does speak Russian, although she also spent nine years in the US as a child, and has been rated as sounding more American than her Californian boss by everyone in her lab.

What I found hardest about using Git the first time was… The first time I used git I struggled with the concepts of staging and committing - why did you need to have two separate areas for these two processes: was git commitment-phobic???

And while I use git daily for version control of my work, and to edit text files with a small group of technologically savvy collaborators, I still struggle with the proper ways of working with git in a large group environment, with multiple branches used by multiple people that can be adequately merged into one final beautiful codebase.