Fifth-year statistics graduate student Qiwei Li took home the M. Clinton Miller III Outstanding Poster Award at the Southern Regional Council on Statistics Summer Research Conference in Bentonville, Arkansas.
His research uses Bayesian statistical methods to solve biological problems and to analyze high-dimensional data. Following the completion of his Ph.D., Li hopes to pursue a career in academia, which is one of the reasons he went to the conference.
“It’s an excellent chance to network,” he said. “My poster looked at computational methods to produce higher accuracy in the ways protein structures behave.”
Working in collaboration with Rice University Professor of Statistics and Department Chair Marina Vannucci, David Dahl from Brigham Young University, and Hyun Joo and Jerry Tsai of the University of the Pacific, Li developed a statistical methodology to predict high-order protein structures.
“Our method is 10-20 percent more accurate than other methods,” said Li. “In addition, it helps us interpret a protein’s structure in a probabilistic way, and allows us to develop software that researchers can use to input their own findings, and get a better picture of how structures are likely to behave. It will have a potentially significant influence on drug development in the future.”
The software application is web-based and free for researchers to use at http://bamboo.byu.edu.
“The project allowed us to study a protein’s structure by decomposing its complex biological system into simple mathematics patterns,” said Li.