Rachel Davis

Hello! My name is Rachel Davis. I’m a rising junior at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa where I’m double majoring in mathematics and computer science. I’m beginning to look around and consider graduate schools, so I decided to try for an REU this summer. Luckily, Silvia was willing to take me under her wing and introduced me to WeFold. WeFold is an incredible collaboration in which everyone is so nice and willing to help out; it was really mind-blowing to be able to email people across the country and get a response that same day. One of the main ideas about this project is that collaboration will benefit the whole—rather than everyone trying to tackle the same things with different degrees of success. With so many people working together new insights are revealed, better division of labor is utilized, and a great community feel is in every conversation.

Being part of the WeFold world is rewarding, even though sometimes I can feel small. I work in a lab with 10 other people that go in and out. Of these 10 people, I’m only 1. Sometimes I get asked to help move some code around or change file permissions, but we are all still a team. Then from our lab, there are other labs you cannot see everyday. The other collaborators are out there, doing the same exact thing that we are doing, and we’re working together with a common goal. Thinking of the number of collaborators and the number of people in each lab, you would think I’m suddenly just another number—but I’m not. I haven’t felt like just another code monkey this whole program. Everyone, no matter what they are working on, is contributing to protein structure prediction in some way. I personally find that simple fact so fascinating and connecting that I love being here everyday and think that everyone should experience coopetition.

I am hoping to be a part of a minisymposium at SIAM Conference in Computational Science and Engineering, CSE15. Part of making this dream come true for me would be gaining a travel award to attend such an experience. Silvia Crivelli spearheaded the minisymposium initiative “Combining disciplines, techniques, faculty, and students to tackle protein folding”. I was lucky enough to be among the title students, and am listed as the lead author on the talk, “Reducing the Data Complexity with Filtering and Clustering.” My associates, Jennifer Ogden and Rehan Rayyanni, and I worked together the summer of 2014 with a new outlook towards protein structuring. Jenn and I filtered proteins using two important criteria, Rehan found a clustering algorithm. Both pieces of this project we feel would be beneficial to the scientific community and would be happy to present our findings.