Mustafa Albekaa

I’m working on an Honours project in the ANU that seeks to 1) automate HiC analysis for ease of use of 2) phasing haplotypes in dikaryotic wheat rust fungus pathogens, and 3) determine what nuclear genome content is shared within and between stripe and leaf rusts. Automation of HiC analysis includes automatic detection of assembly errors, centromeres, telomeres, and other chimeric structures. This will be used to accelerate haplotype phasing of stripe and leaf rust fungi, invasive biotrophic pathogens that are a biosecurity risk to Australia’s food supply of wheat. Once these rust fungi are phased, an in-depth analysis of what nuclear genome content is shared within their respective two nuclei and between the two fungi will be performed to provide annotations to reference genomes.

I started learning biology as a bridge to medicine, but in time I grew to be excited for the potential of genetic engineering in medical applications. Biology remains a means to an end for me, but now instead of using it as a stepping stone to the operating room I see it can be a tool that can cure people of the most painful chronic diseases, and I wish to help bring it through to that application.

The Schwessinger lab is a very supportive environment that pushes me to work harder than I ever have before, and I’m learning a great deal about genes and the research process that I know will be indispensably useful in the future.