Corrections or additions?
These articles by Bart Jackson and Jack Florek were prepared for
the April 17, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
New Challenges In Bioinformatics
mid-1990s, one of her colleagues kept a file cabinet of information
on proteins. "There were 300 proteins," recalls Gibas, now
an assistant professor of biology at Virginia Tech. "You could
know them all by name." No more. "It has all changed
she says. With the sequencing of the gene and the development of
there has been a sea change, she says, "even in the kinds of
there are to work on."
On Thursday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m. Gibas speaks on "Challenges
in Bioinformatics: From Single Molecules to Whole Genomes" at
a meeting of the Princeton ACM/IEEE-CS Chapters at Sarnoff
It is free and is preceded by dinner at the Rusty Scupper at 6 p.m.
Gibas, the co-author of Bioinformatics Computer Skills, became
in the potential of the computer in biology research while she was
studying for her Ph.D at the University of Illinois. She started out
to earn her degree in biophysics, but then, she says, "my boss
decided he wanted to gather information to better design
She was sent off to study the potential of the computer in aiding
research, and "decided that was more fascinating than carrying
out the experiments." Shifting her emphasis to learning how to
craft queries to elicit information, she added the infant field of
bioinformatics to her studies.
In classic biology, observations are done by hand, creating a mountain
of paper. Teasing out patterns can be difficult. With bioinformatics,
the work is aided by automation. "You need all the work to be
there," says Gibas. "You need all the background, but the
user needs to see what is important. Not just everything."
Bioinformatics is a combination of biology research and computer
Pure programmers may not be the best practitioners of this hybrid
science, says Gibas, because they may not know enough about research,
about what questions are important. And biologists may shrink from
informatics because, she says, they "often end up in the field
because they’re afraid of math." Biology is the one science, she
finds, where it is possible to avoid most math.
Gibas is not crazy about the subject herself. "I’ve always hated
math," she says, "but I knew I had to do it." She forced
herself to study chemistry, a science requiring more math, because,
although she found it more difficult than biology, she believed what
she was learning had more substance, and would be more useful.
"Chemistry was my major in college," Gibas says. "It
me a lot more. In biology they were dissecting a frog. That’s okay,
but I asked `what am I learning here?’" She believes that students
who do best in bioinformatics "have had a little more chemistry
or biochemistry." While a math background is necessary for
efficient algorithms, standardizing and storing large datasets in
databases, and developing tools to query those databases, a more
skill, she says, is "the ability to think logically, to understand
how a query needs to be constructed, to know what pattern of
you need to pull out to ask a question."
Gibas obviously finds fascination in all of this. A pioneer in
the power of computers to the questions of science, she is one of
a small number of female bioinformatics professionals. "Women
are pretty rare," she says. "Everybody knows who we are."
It is a problem finding top level women to address conferences, she
says, and she gets few inquiries from women who want to do double
majors in biology and computer science.
An obstacle is math fear, said to be more common in women than in
men. And then there is the lifestyle. "We get applications from
graduate students who say, `I’m able to work 17 to 19 hours a
Gibas marvels. She doesn’t think that is a sensible work schedule,
but nevertheless, she says the hours that she works do not leave a
lot of time for other pursuits. She recalls that, at age eight, she
used her first computer to program the songs she was learning on the
piano — until a lightening strike fried the machine, whose memory,
she recalls, could only hold a few bars of music at a time anyway.
Asked if she still plays, she just laughs. Her work leaves little
time for music, vacations — or building a family. She knows
professors in the sciences who manage time to have and raise children,
but she hasn’t yet figured out how they do it.
Still, the groundbreaking work she does engrosses her, and she shows
no signs of ambivalence toward it. The joining of scientific inquiry
and the astounding speed and agility of computers is also the wave
of the future, and Gibas thinks women, as well as men, will
gravitate toward it. An essential tool in delving into the secrets
of the genome, bioinformatics will almost certainly spread to other
areas of research. "Everyone will need more quantitative
she says. "Biologists will not get away with no math."
For technophobes, there is bad news: A website is a
now as basic as a Yellow Pages listing, something that clients expect
to see. There is also good news: A professional-looking website
a wealth of information about a business can be had for under $10,000,
and a basic website for a professional can be up and running for
"You won’t get the bells and whistles," says
Wyland, owner of KWP Associates, a Bordentown-based web development
and Internet photography business. But that may not be bad news
"Programmers are moving away from bells and whistles because of
bandwidth," she says.
Wyland speaks on "Building a Website for Artists and Art
on Saturday, April 20, at 10 a.m. at a Trenton Arts Connection event
taking place at Thomas Edison College. Cost: $35. Call 609-695-8155.
A member of the board of the Trenton Arts Connection, Wyland says
she became interested in helping to create an arts community in
while she was a staff photographer for the Trenton Times, beginning
in 1988. Interested in computers before they even had hard drives,
she began her journey toward web development when an AP representative
visited the newspaper.
"AP said `we have this new thing. You can get images from around
the world electronically,’" Wyland recalls. The newspaper decided
that would be a good thing, but realized it would need technicians.
"Me, me, me!" was Wyland’s reaction. While learning how to
incorporate electronic images into a daily newspaper for her employer,
she bought herself a scanner. Running a part-time photographic PR
business, she realized, "this is something I can do for my
Ahead of her time, Wyland found herself educating her clients about
the time and money savings digital photography offered, a campaign
that did not turn the corner until the advent of desktop publishing
made the advantages obvious.
Meanwhile, Wyland was becoming enamored of the things a website could
do for her business. She started to put proof sheets up on her site
(www.kwpassociates.net), giving clients password-protected access.
"I would shoot an event on Wednesday," she says, "and
they could go into their offices and look at the photos on
Deciding to make the Internet not only work for her, but be her work,
Wyland left the Trenton Times in 1998 and went to work for the
website development company, Tramp Steamer Media, so that she could
learn all about creating websites. While working there as a project
manager, she began to take on her own clients on the side. About six
months ago, she formed KWP Associates.
Among her specialties is web storage of photographs and other images.
"Hospitals and other mid-sized organizations have photos from
over the years," she says. The images, perhaps snapshots of a
conference, professional photos used in advertising, or logos, tend
to be scattered all over the place — stuffed in drawers, tacked
onto bulletin boards, or organized in folders. The photos deteriorate
over time, get lost, and are only accessible from one location.
Wyland scans these photos — or the film on which they were shot
— organizes them, and has a company that specializes in secure
servers store them. Once the images are online, anyone from the client
organization with password clearance can look at them any time from
anywhere, and they can easily be included in documents — perhaps
advertising brochures or commemorative booklets — that the
puts together through the years.
This service is a relatively small part of Wyland’s business. She
spends the lion’s share of her time on website development. Since
going out on her own she has been far busier with website requests
than she thought she would be. "I thought it would be this nice
little business," she says, "but I’m at my desk from 7:30
a.m. to 11 p.m. I haven’t even had time to do marketing." Her
clients, most of them networking contacts, are telling her that they
need a website, but don’t have a lot of money to spend.
A typical client is the Mental Health Association of Rockland County.
The organization needed to get information out to clients, but had
a tight budget. For about $6,000, Wyland created a 50-page website
for them. For individuals, the tab can be about $1,000.
Getting the word out via website is becoming an imperative for all
kinds of organizations and for professionals in every field as clients
more and more frequently ask for a link to a website before signing
a contract. For artists and art organizations, a website can be the
most cost effective way of marketing and building community.
of a having website include:
for the Trenton Arts Connection (www.trentonarts.org) for about
"It’s a small organization," says Wyland. "A website is
a great economical way to reach out to a community of artists. They
don’t have to spend thousands on marketing." Instead of a
marketing campaign, with a need to constantly print new brochures
and announcements, an organization on a tight budget can get the word
out on the Internet, where updates can be added at no cost.
years, but it has been only in the last eight months that it has begun
to feed her work. A magazine based in North Carolina recently
her after searching the ‘Net for a picture of Al Sharpton it liked
and finding one on her website. The medium, she says, delivers clients
an artist would never think to contact: "It takes you
can serve an almost limitless number of purposes. It can attract
advertise upcoming events, give directions, and help artists connect
with one another.
Wyland puts a lot of the work back on them. For a website costing
about $1,000, a clients are expected to choose among several palettes
and formats, and to write their own text. Using information the
provide, Wyland creates a unique website for each.
A visual person herself, Wyland says the words on a website are key.
"That is why people come to a website," she says. "They
want to read about you, to find out about you." Increasingly,
busy clients, connected to the Internet all day anyway, turn first
— and perhaps only — to their computer screens to find goods
and services. Artists who want to capture all the business they can
need to turn up in those Internet searches.
For educational film producers, screenwriters, and
who see themselves working in the media, theft may not come in such
a dramatic form as a bank heist or a hold-up, but it can be just as
"These days, people need to be very protective of their
Humanities and Sciences at 11 Perrine Road in Monmouth Junction.
the past, film has always been a hard copy sale, but now in digital,
it is even more important to make sure the work is still protected.
Emerging technology is changing the way many people do business."
New technologies have made the theft of intellectual property easier
than ever. After months of researching, writing, shooting, and editing
your four-hour documentary on snapping turtles, it is more than a
bit discouraging to see it suddenly turn up on someone else’s website.
A seminar, "Protecting Intellectual Property in the Digital
will be presented by the Princeton Media Communications Association
on Wednesday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m. at Templeton Hall, Princeton
Theological Seminary. Admission is free for Princeton chapter members
and $15 for the public. Call 732-514-0090.
Bilello was originally scheduled to take part in the seminar, but
business commitments have called her away. She will be replaced by
Other panelists will include
and copyright matters, and
at Mercer College (U.S. 1, March 20).
"This is a time of transition for many institutions," says
Dedrick. "I get six to ten calls a week from various institutions
that are moving into the digital age." To accommodate this growing
trend, Films for the Humanities and Sciences, which has been providing
educational media to schools, libraries, and universities for over
25 years, has recently licensed many of the 12,000 film titles for
With the high profile customers that the firm deals with, intellectual
property theft is rare. "I primarily work with major colleges
and university libraries," says Dedrick. "They know what the
copyright laws are. The problems come when you get a professor who
isn’t so knowledgeable and does what he wants with the material."
Bilello, who graduated from City University of New York, has been
with Films for the Humanities and Sciences for 17 years. "When
I started, we worked with 16 millimeter film," says Bilello.
were run by a husband and wife who sold the company to Primedia about
10 years ago. In that time the industry has gone through so many
from film to Beta, then to video, and now to DVD." Dedrick
from Trenton State in 1994 and has been at FFH for two and a half
While digital format is becoming more commonplace — soon big
motion pictures will be beamed to your nearby cineplex via satellite
— there is certainly no going back to the days of celluloid and
broken sprockets. Aside from doing the basics, like making sure to
copyright your work, Bilello offers this advice to anyone
a plunge into the world of digital transmission.
rights. They allow for a non-theatrical showing without charge outside
the home to a gathering other than family or friends. These are the
gatherings normally found in schools, libraries, churches, and civic
institutions, and closed circuit transmission in a single building.
hands of another party, it’s important to know who your customers
are and what they are going to use the work for. "Make a list
of questions in advance," says Bilello. And make sure your
get it and answer it before opening the digital floodgates.
— Jack Florek
At conventions the keynote speaker is supposed to infuse
the listeners with renewed energy, and follow-up workshops should
follow up with the nuts and bolts of self-improvement. That’s the
way it works at the one-day meeting for what used to be called
Day," now called "Administrative Professionals Day." It
is set for Thursday, April 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Princeton
Marriott: Cost: $129 (discounts for members and groups). Call
It is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, Mercer County Community
College, and the International Association of Administrative
Star in You." Participants will enjoy continental breakfast,
and any three of five hour-long seminars, including "Tune Up Your
Holistic Health," by
and holistic health therapist; and "Boost Your Financial
hone business writing skills using the topic "Sharpening Your
E-mail Etiquette." For those who already know PowerPoint,
Masotes will lead an advanced session. Surely one good way to star
as an administrative professional is to take your boss’s dull
presentation and liven it up. Masotes will cover how to use the
tools, add word art, link a chart from Excel — even how to
sound and movie clips.
In the wake of the April 15 tax deadline comes some
good news for tax debtors: New Jersey has just started a tax amnesty
program. Until Monday, June 10, taxpayers may pay only the tax that
they owe — all liabilities and penalties will be waived. This
waiver covers tax liabilities for returns due between January 1, 1996,
and before January 1, 2002.
Eligible for amnesty are sales and use taxes, personal income taxes,
corporate income taxes, and other categories. Not eligible under this
program are federal taxes, local property taxes, and taxes paid to
The amnesty is a double-edged sword. After June 10 an extra five
penalty will be added to any taxes that were eligible for the amnesty,
and a collection service fee may be imposed. This will be in addition
to all other penalties, interest, and associated costs. The state
expects the program to yield $150 million for this year’s budget.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.