Amey Pasarkar Recognized By the Computing Research Association’s (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award

Amey Pasarkar has been selected as a Finalist for his work on computational models that examine the microbiome and its role in health and disease. 

Directional Gaussian Mixture Models of the Gut Microbiome Elucidate Microbial Spatial Structure
Amey P. Pasarkar, Tyler A. Joseph, Itsik Pe’er

The human gut microbiome contains trillions of bacteria that play a key role in preventing and fighting disease. However, the behaviors of these bacteria are still not well understood. One of these behaviors is the spatial arrangement of microbes in the gut. Numerous experimental studies have hinted that the various unique environments along the gut lead to certain bacterial spatial patterns. The research team created a consolidated computational model of the microbiome’s spatial arrangement. Their model can identify many of the previously discovered patterns and propose new ones as well. For example, the models found that the pH levels in the small intestine are likely promoting the growth of a specific family of bacteria.

The results demonstrate that the gut microbiome, while exceptionally large, has predictable and quantifiable spatial patterns that can be used to help us understand its role in health and disease.