Alise Ponsero

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Arizona


Any career path is difficult when you have to walk it alone, but you can trust other people to help you reach your goals.

What do you do?

Over the last decade, biologists have generated huge amount of data allowing an unprecedented description of many ecosystems and their functions. However, the analysis of these large-scale dataset is difficult and requires large amount of compute power. My lab focuses on the development of tools and methods to help biologists to rapidly and efficiently analyze and explore these big datasets.

Moreover, the rapid generation of biological data requires the development of web platforms to help biologists to make their data available and reusable by the broader scientific community. My lab is working on the development of several of these platforms, tuned to serve specific scientific communities.

Why did you choose this field?

I did a PhD in molecular biology, working on yeast genetics, so my work had nothing to do with computer science or data science! However, during this time, I became passionate about open science and the open source movement. I always believed academia and science in general to be a world of data and idea sharing. However, in reality, it can be very difficult for biologists to efficiently share their work or to reuse previous scientific efforts, and felt like I should do something about it. After my PhD, I decided to do a master’s degree in computer science and I had an opportunity to join my current lab to work on this fascinating topic.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

For as long as I can remember, I was always passionate about travelling and learning about new cultures. I however did most of my schooling in France, thinking that it was more important to develop my network and professional relationships. When I got my first position abroad, during my graduate school, I was so thrilled! Scientists have many great opportunities to travel and work abroad, and I wish younger me did not hesitate so much to leave to discover the world!

Why do you love working in STEM?

STEM is an ever-changing world, and while this can be scary at times, I love to know that I will always have new amazing things to learn and discover.

Best advice for next generation?

Do not hesitate to look for mentorship and advice whenever you are lost or have some questions about your future. In my experience, people are almost always happy to provide guidance, and help you navigate your career. It can be a teacher, a coworker, an older student or anyone else that you trust. Do not hesitate to share your fears and you will be rewarded by attention and guidance. Any career path is difficult when you have to walk it alone, but you can trust other people to help you reach your goals.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

Duolingo! It’s free, it’s using cutting edge machine learning techniques to help you learn new languages and most importantly: it is a lot of fun!

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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