Associate Professor Saket Navlakha, the newest researcher to join the Simons Center for Quantitative Biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), focuses his work on what he calls the “algorithms of nature,” which are based on how molecules, cells, and organisms process information to solve problems important to their survival.
By learning how the biology around us uniquely solves problems, Navlakha can then reapply those approaches to engineering and computer science. He also aims to work from the other end, using lessons from engineering and computer science to better understand and predict natural phenomenon, such as evolution.
Prior to joining CSHL, Navlakha received a Ph.D. in computer science, focusing on biological networks, from the University of Maryland College Park. He performed postdoc research at Carnegie Mellon University’s Machine Learning Department and then moved to the Salk Center for Integrative Biology, where he became interested in the development of brains and plants.
Studying brains could reveal how the evolution of neural networks can inspire the next-generation of machine learning algorithms, and understanding how plants have evolved could inform the future of gene edited crops. Those are just a few reasons why Navlakha is excited to join the collaborative culture of CSHL.
“Having colleagues in completely different areas than me has always been exciting and educational. There are not a lot of places where you can do neuroscience and plant biology, while also thinking about the immune system or cancer,” he said. “This is an environment where I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun.”