Sarah Forrester

Sarah Forrester

University of York


My research involves the use of big data, typically metagenomic and metabolomic data, to interrogate and understand microbial community interactions. I'm interested in training researchers, with a focus on how to pipeline analysis and adopt reproducible practices.

My work

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of York in the Biology department. My role is primarily a research one, however I am increasingly involved in the delivery of bioinformatics based teaching. My research uses large volumes of data to untangle microbe interactions within communities. In particular I am interested in methanogenic archaea which are involved in the decomposition of organic matter during anaerobic digestion.

This decomposition results in the production of methane which can be used as a renewable energy resource. However these methanogens do not exist in isolation, instead they exist in complex community. Identifying which microbes are in these communities, how they interact with each other, and how to manipulate them in order to improve biogas yield are key questions I use 'big data' analysis methods for.

I supervise and support researchers within the Chong lab group in order to develop their data skills. However I am also an active community member and organise the University of Yorks bioinformatics meetings, which have skill based workshops for people newer to data science, alongside round table problem based sessions where we help people with their analysis problems.

I am now also part of the CloudSPAN project which is a collaboration between the SSI and the University of York developing FAIR compliant training resources to train biologists to perform cloud based high performance computing analyses. My fellowship will involve me developing additional materials that can be taught alongside the CloudSPAN materials. Some of these materials will be developed and delivered in the form of Carpentries style workshops.

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