In their senior year, all WPI students complete a Major Qualifying Project (MQP), a professional-level research or design project that enables students to tackle, and solve, real-world problems in their fields of study. In the process, students synthesize their previous learning, hone their critical thinking and communication skills, and learn to work independently.

Under the guidance of faculty advisors, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology students apply BCB theory, tools, and techniques to make a difference in areas such as functional genomics, disease prediction, regenerative medicine, biological database mining, and biodiversity.

Get to know some of our students and learn how their MQP experiences have direct ties to their success.

Gene Expression Classification

Author: Gregory M Barrett, CS
Advisors: Carolina Ruiz, Elizabeth Ryder

In this project, we constructed classification models for gene expression based on association rules. Gene expression patterns from cell types in the nematode C. elegans were used. The promoter regions associated with these genes were gathered. Motifs were mined from this data set. Multiple methods were used to select subsets of these motifs. Classification models were built from these subsets. The performance of these models was analyzed. A novel method of selecting motifs was shown to produce the best models.

Cluster Visualization of Upregulated HDAC1 in Mouse Using Integration of Treeview and Galaxy

Author: Timothy Bonci
Advisor: Elizabeth Ryder

In order to better understand genetic expression changes in experiments, microarray data is computer analyzed by tools such as the freely available Galaxy, which currently lacks microarray visualization. A visualization interface was built into the toolset using Python. It was enabled with selectable clustering algorithms which were used to analyze the RNA from mice infected with AAV to upregulate HDAC1 or LacZ. The HDAC enzymes have been shown to play a part in the negative regulation of types of learning. This clustering identifies other genes as likely actors in the chemistry of memory and learning.

View additional MQP’s in our project database.

Interactive Qualifying Project

WPI undergraduates also put their problem-solving skills to use through the junior year Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP). Students work in teams to solve problems at the intersection of science, technology, and society, from designing bicycle paths in WPI’s hometown to launching a mentoring program for orphans in Morocco to creating interactive guides for a museum in London.