Hello, I'm Anne Smith.
I am on the Biology faculty at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Today, I'm going to give you a broad overview and
introduction to the topic of Computational Biology.
When people ask me what I do,
I say I'm a computational biologist.
This is often followed by a bit of a puzzled look and the question what's that,
as you can see the person trying to figure out how
these two things that sound like they're complete opposites can possibly go together.
I typically explain that computational biology is
building models in computers of biological systems.
If the person is particularly interested,
I'll go on and explain that my area is building algorithms which
can discover these models and then help us explain how biological systems work.
At this point, reassured that I'm not somehow programming
a cell or building a computer out of pieces of DNA.
The person usually lets it go.
However, since you're listening to this talk,
I'm going to assume that you are much more interested in the topic.
I'll tell you a lot more about computational biology.
This is a huge area and I'll barely scratch the surface,
but I'll cover four broad areas.
First is bioinformatics.
This is the area of computational biology that
nearly every biologists will have some passing interaction with,
whether you study rates of enzymatic reactions inside of
cells or drivers of biodiversity in rain forests.
Next, I'll talk about my area,
building computer and mathematical models of biological systems,
often called systems biology.
Then we'll get to those other things that people were reassured that
I didn't do but in fact some people actually do.
Programming cells, an area known as synthetic biology
and building computers out of pieces of DNA, DNA computing.