JXTX Foundation

February 21st, 2024

JXTX + CSHL 2024 Biology of Genomes Awardees

JXTX Foundation Awardees
JXTX Foundation Awards Scholarships for 2024 Biology of Genomes

JXTX: The James P. Taylor Foundation for Open Science is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024 JXTX+CSHL Biology of Genomes Scholarships. The JXTX Foundation provides support for students to attend conferences in computational biology and data science, where they can present their work and form connections with other researchers in the field.

Six genomics and data sciences graduate students from around the globe were awarded this set of JXTX+CSHL scholarships. These awardees will present their work at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Biology of Genomes Conference being held May 7-11. Awardees represent six institutions and are presenting a wide range of research at the meeting.


Yuyao Song


Yuyao is a PhD candidate from the Papatheodorou group at EMBL-EBI. Her primary research focus lies in cross-species comparison of cell types using scRNA-seq data. She has developed computational frameworks to tackle the conservation and divergence of cell type expression profiles across species, from the perspective of evolution and functional genomics. Currently, she is working on devising a novel analysis paradigm leveraging knowledge graphs. She spends most of her free time exploring nature and culture across the globe.

Prajna Hebbar

University of California Santa Cruz

Prajna is a second year PhD student in the Department of Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California Santa Cruz under the supervision of Dr Benedict Paten. She is extremely interested in developing methods for comparative and pan- genomics, with a focus on gene annotation. Her most recent efforts have been to annotate the complete T2T non human primate genomes and she will soon direct her work towards helping annotate the human pangenome. Outside of work, she is an avid birder and hiker.


Xiang Zhang

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Xiang Zhang is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota, advised by Dr. Chad Myers. He specializes in using machine learning approaches for integrating diverse genomic data to make inferences about biological networks. His recent focus has been developing computational methods for mapping and interpreting large-scale genetic interaction networks in human cells based on genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 screens. In addition to computational biology, Xiang is passionate about skiing and classical music.

Omar Ahmed

Johns Hopkins University

Omar Ahmed is a PhD candidate in Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University. He is advised by Dr. Ben Langmead. He obtained his BA in Computer Science and Physics from Lehigh University. Currently, his research focuses on developing novel compressed data-structures that enable rapid querying against large pan-genome collections. His recent work has been on adapting a new data-structure called the document array profiles, that enables full document listing that is independent of the size of the text, to be utilized for metagenomic read classification.


Chandler Sutherland

University of California Berkeley

Chandler Sutherland is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology and Center for Computational Biology. Advised by Ksenia Krasileva, her research focus is the contribution of mutation to the evolution of plant immune receptors, using a combination of genomic and biochemical tools in model and crop plants. Chandler is particularly passionate about science communication and increasing the reproducibility and accessibility of science.

Jason Kunisaki

University of Utah

Jason Kunisaki is an MD-PhD candidate from the University of Utah’s Department of Human Genetics. His research in Aaron Quinlan’s lab focuses on understanding the properties of germline and somatic mutagenesis associated with reduced sperm production and overall health in subfertile men. Outside of lab, Jason is passionate about teaching and outreach. Through his involvement in programs such as SACNAS and ME in Medicine, Jason engages with students from local elementary schools in Salt Lake City to promote interest in STEM and medically oriented careers.


About JXTX: The James P. Taylor Foundation for Open Science

“The most important job of senior faculty is to mentor junior faculty and students.” These are the words that Professor James P. Taylor, the Ralph S. O’Connor Professor at the Departments of Biology and Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University said and lived by. This, he believed, was imperative to advance science, and in a way that facilitated diversity and inclusion. The mission of this foundation is to continue his legacy, through a multifaceted approach which will be unrolled across several stages.

Towards the goal of advancing mentorship, the JXTX Foundation will organize and host mentoring sessions between senior and junior faculty members at select high-profile meetings. The Foundation also aims to attract new scholars, including high school and undergrad students, to computational biology and data science, and to form connections and opportunities for members of underrepresented minority populations.

According to his colleagues, James hated self-promotion. But the community would be done a grave disservice if the seeds planted by Dr.Taylor were not nourished to grow and flourish. Thank you to those who have generously contributed.

Please consider making a donation to support James Taylor’s legacy.