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Coding a Future in Biology

Honored Graduating Student Evan Marshman (BIO)

Inspired by his journey with mental illness and teachers who set strong examples of research, bioinformatics student Evan Marshman (‘22) plans to help those around him improve, mentally and physically.

As explained by Marshman, bioinformatics is a cross between biological sciences and computer programming. He says there is a lot of biological data and statistical testing, using coding algorithms to find patterns in the biological world.

Picture of Evan Marshman

Marshman’s research lab studies the difference of the gut bacteria between flies with Parkinson’s disease and those without. The flies are genetically altered to have Parkinson’s in order for the lab to investigate the effect neurological diseases have on gut bacteria. Marshman sought and earned three College Undergraduate Research Awards (CURA), providing funds to further the research. “I’ve put a lot of time and effort into the lab,” Marshman says.

Though the pandemic wedged itself into his education timeline, Marshman says it didn’t inhibit his learning or progress. In fact, the pandemic led Marshman to meet his wife, Christen. They both love white water rafting and hope to visit every national park in the country, soaking themselves in all the rapids the U.S. has to offer.

Marshman looks forward to furthering his education and eventually earning a Ph.D. “I want to be a professor,” he says.

Marshman added that he has obsessive-compulsive disorder, which he explains has caused a difficult journey to find effective therapy and medication combinations. “I would like to use computational biology to improve the prescription process for mental illness pharmaceuticals because it’s just a guessing game right now,” Marshman says. He wants the process for mental health patients to obtain effective medications to be “more precise, more accurate, and to lower the amount of time required to obtain the prescription.”

Overall, Marshman has a philosophy of hard work: “Don’t be afraid to grind...As long as you’re grinding and trying to figure it out, more power to you.”