Joshua Payne – Laureate of the 2014 SIB Early Career Bioinformatician Award

Joshua pursued a Postdoc in the team of SIB Group Leader Andreas Wagner at the University of Zurich when he won the award for his project on “The Robustness and Evolvability of Transcription Factor Binding Sites” in 2014.

Today, Joshua works as an SNSF Assistant Professor at the Institute for Integrative Biology at the ETH Zurich. Together with his team - the Computational Biology Group - Joshua has set up a couple of research projects focusing on evolution, gene regulation and the reconstruction of genotype-phenotype maps. To learn more about his research interests, have a look at the group’s webpage, read the interview below with him, or follow @joshualevipayne on Twitter.


About the SIB Bioinformatics Awards and our interview series “Meet the past SIB Awards Laureates”

Started in 2008 as an initiative to distinguish young bioinformaticians in Switzerland, the SIB Bioinformatics Awards have gone a long way since: from a single national award to three different prizes today, honouring 1) international early career bioinformaticians (SIB Early Career Bioinformatician Award), 2) excellency within the Swiss PhD community (SIB Best Swiss Bioinformatics Graduate Paper Award) and 3) innovative bioinformatics resources (SIB Bioinformatics Resource Innovation Award). Throughout the years, 21 awards have been presented, with nine laureates recognized for their outstanding early career, ten Graduate students for their excellent publication and two bioinformatics resources for their innovative aspect.
In 2019, the SIB Bioinformatics Awards will be presented for the 10th time, providing a great occasion to reach out to past laureates and ask them where they are now in their career: this interview is part of a series inviting you to meet past SIB Bioinformatics Awards laureates.

At which point of your career were you when you received the SIB Award? How did it feel? What was the key interest of your research at this time point?

In 2014, when I won the award, I was an SNSF Ambizione Fellow in Andreas Wagner's lab at the University of Zurich. The key interest of my research was the robustness and evolvability of transcription factor binding sites. It meant a lot to me to win the award, because we had been working on that paper for so long. It was really exciting to see that it was appreciated by the Swiss bioinformatics community.

What are your current research interests?

Evolution, gene regulation and genotype-phenotype maps.

In your personal opinion, what is the single most fascinating discovery made possible by bioinformatics?

I don't think I can pinpoint a single most fascinating discovery, because there's just so much cool stuff out there right now. I definitely found Fran Supek's body of work on mutation and cancer fascinating, especially his work on the role of synonymous mutations as driver mutations (Supek et al., 2014).


What do you like to do in your free time?

Hang out with my daughter, ride snowboards and bikes.

Any words for the future generation of bioinformaticians?

Do what you love, the rest will follow!

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