Slim Karkar

Slim Karkar  Quick Facts About Slim

  • Campus Affiliation: Camden
  • Department: Center for Computational and Integrative Biology
  • Languages: English, French
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How did you come to choose your area of research? 

I came to work in bioinformatics because I wanted to apply my computer skills to biomedical and life science. The human genome project was an amazing scientific step about to be tackled, and since then the amount and nature of data became itself the scientific problem to tackle. Similarly, the period saw significant progresses in brain imaging and a new type of highly voluminous data needed new methods and original approaches. So I had a formal training in bioinformatics until the master level then did my Ph.D in medical imaging. I still see evolution and neuroscience as the most fascinating scientific challenges.

What were the most notable obstacles and achievements that you met on your career path?

Coming from France, the biggest obstacle I still face is often a restricted vision of scientific fields. Biological science too rarely interconnects with Computer Science other than through black boxes and pipelines. Similarly, on too many occasions, computer science labs do not collaborate with biologists much further than the data processing steps.  So my biggest achievement so far had been to collaborate with hands-on psychiatrist and neuroscientists for my Ph.D and with renown evolutionary biologists both in Paris and here at Rutgers. I’ve been working on a new, challenging project for the past two years at Rutgers-Camden.  It has been pretty successful so far, and it’s a big achievement for everyone on our team.

What has steered your decision to now spend your postdoctoral time at Rutgers?

During my first postdoctoral training in Paris, I came to work in close collaboration with Dr. Bhattacharya in the Ecology Department at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. In 2013 he offered me a postdoctoral position in a joint project with Dr. Falkowski from the Marine Sciences Department. It was a fascinating project, with prestigious scientists and institutions so I was very enthusiastic. In 2014 I applied for several purely bioinformatic postdocs, but my interest went to a very challenging project that Dr. Lun was developing in Rutgers-Camden.

Where do you plan to be in the future with the skills you are currently refining?

I plan to go back and teach in European universities, in France if possible, but I do not restrict myself to that single country. Lately, my project involved a lot of team work and strategic thinking in software development, and I genuinely felt more comfortable in that environment than I thought I would be. So I will keep my options open!

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