Vinodh Srinivasasainagendra isn’t your average statistician. Number crunching is a key part of his job as a statistician and bio-informatician within the Section of Statistical Genetics (SSG) in the Department of Biostatistics. But he’s also involved in life-science laboratories because of the nature of the department’s research in genetics and genomics.
“This is very much a unique position,” he says. “I don’t just crunch numbers on a daily basis. I get to talk with members of other sections and collaborate with other departments within UAB, and we’re working to solve health-related problems.”
|More than just a number-cruncher, Vinodh Srinivasasainagendra’s programming skills, creativity and ability to resolve high-level computation problems have earned him the Employee of the Month for November.
Vinodh’s extraordinary programming skills, creativity and his ability to conceive, coordinate and resolve high-level computational problems within a team environment all distinguish him as a worthy selection for November’s Employee of the Month.
UAB is celebrated worldwide for its cutting-edge research in the biomedical sciences, and Jelai Wang, system programmer lead, says it is sometimes surprising to people unfamiliar with current biological research to find computer programmers and statisticians working in life-science labs.
“In genetics and genomics in particular, the focal point of a great deal of research is on the genetic code that underlies disorders including cancer, diabetes and obesity,” Wang says. “Understanding code is exactly what well-programmed, high-performance software and computers can do. If the observed data from biological and genetic studies are going to reveal meaningful results, those data have to be analyzed using sometimes novel and often highly creative computational techniques.
“It is precisely in this interface between the life sciences and computer technology that Vinodh’s contributions to UAB are so valuable,” Wang says.
Vinodh came to UAB in 2000 and distinguished himself as a student, earning masters degrees in electrical engineering in 2003 and in computer and information sciences in 2004.
He has developed a formidable array of technical skills ranging from an expertise in distributed and parallel computer technology to facility with a broad and still-expanding collection of programming and statistical languages, database design and management tools and software packages. Co-workers say he can work across Windows and Linux platforms and combine all of these elements and bring them to bear — often in resourceful ways — on the high-level computational problems that frequently are encountered in the biological sciences.
Vinodh also has made contributions to his department in the area of grant proposals.
“Specifically, he often is counted on to perform complex, multi-step data-mining queries across multiple, online databases, including PubMed, CRISP, ISI and others,” says Hemant K. Tiwari, Ph.D., associate professor of biostatistics. “Sometimes he does this on very short notice and still produces high-quality tables and beautiful graphical works of art. These creative works have, without a doubt, contributed to the SSG’s and thus UAB’s continued success in finding and securing research funding for many important scientific projects.”
Vinodh says he appreciates that he works in an environment that can provide an abundance of resources that enable him to do his job effectively and efficiently.
“The SSG is an active member of high-performance resource facilities on campus, and this enables me to solve problems with computational need in a more efficient way. Being able to collaborate and interface with a wide range of subject domain experts allows me to understand and disseminate my efforts well,” he says.
David Allison, Ph.D., professor of biostatistics says Vinodh’s efforts are crucial to the SSG enterprise.
“Without a person like Vinodh, who has both a wide range of computational skills and an ability to work well in teams of investigative scientists, much of the research upon which UAB’s reputation is founded simply would never reach fruition,” adds Allison. “We are all fortunate that Vinodh is keeping his UAB training and expertise here in Birmingham. He is one of the behind-the-scenes employees who makes UAB’s progress and reputation possible.”
Vinodh says he appreciates his co-workers who nominated him for the Employee of the Month award, and he calls learning of the honor, “My most memorable day at UAB.
“I love what I get to do here,” he says. “We do research in so many areas and a lot of problem solving. I feel we’re doing work that is a good service to humanity, and that’s what I like the most about the section.”
To nominate someone for Employee of the Month, send letters of nomination to Kelly Mayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.uab.edu/eotm.