Comparative Genomics of Non-Model Invertebrates

Juan Antonio Ruiz Santiesteban

Juan Antonio Ruiz Santiesteban​ is working on ESR Project 13: Computational identification of major gene regulation modules in development and cell differentiation under the supervision of Kristian Vlahovicek at the Bioinformatics group of the University of Zagreb. For his project he will work sponge genomics from a comparative approach, making use of expression data generated from two freshwater sponges adapted to very different environments. One of the goals is to give special attention to non-coding elements that often get overlooked in studies looking beyond model organisms.  

Juan Antonio, in his own words is: "Born and raised in a small town, where insects are the most interesting and colorful things around. I grew up fascinated by animals and their diversity". Later on, motivated by these growing "geeky" interests, I decided to study Genomics at the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM) in Cuernavaca. While studying there, he worked for a while on zebrafish development and then moved to the Sars Centre for Marine Molecular Biology in Bergen to work on Evolutionary Developmental Biology of excretory systems. Captivated by comparative biology, Juan Antonio later studied Marine Invertebrate Zoology at Friday Harbor Labs and then moved to Saudi Arabia to work on his MS at the Red Sea Research Center of KAUST. Besides research, in the last few years he has also enjoyed mentoring high-school students participating at the Mexican Biology Olympiads.

"At this age, my general interests in life and science remain almost the same than in my childhood but I can now define them with pretentious jargon. Using a comparative approach to understand the relation between the evolution of genomes composition/architecture and the evolution of metazoa morphological complexity is one of my major motivations for pursuing and academic career. When I am not reading or taking about squishy critters, I dedicate my spare time to fine arts, music, cooking, and strategy board games; all on an amateur scale."

Institution: University of Zagreb

ESR Project 13: Computational identification of major gene regulation modules in development and cell differentiation

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