Dear members of the CQLS Community,

I wanted to reach out and give you an update on the status of the Center.  It has been, as they say, an interesting year.  We have seen an easing of COVID restrictions, and with that return of staff to the Center.  We have had several personnel changes: Bo (Finance Manager), Dana (Bioinformatics Analyst), Matt (Bioinformatics Analyst), and Lynn (Admin. Assistant) have left for new opportunities.  Max Schmidt (Computational Scientist) and Steven Carrell (Bioinformatics Scientist) have joined the Center.  Konnie Handschuch has been serving as our part time Admin Assistant.

There have been changes within our laboratory space as well.  With closing of the previous Director’s lab, we’ve began the process of expanding our core laboratory into that space. A consultant has reviewed laboratory workflows for spatial optimization, and we are excited that this effort will help streamline sample processing and provide better staff space.

As part of functional realignment efforts in the Research Office, we have transferred several administrative duties to them.  Parts of CQLS billing, ordering, and HR efforts now take place in the Research Office.  This change will provide substantial capacity and personnel overlap and minimize bottlenecks.

The biocomputing side of CQLS has continued its efforts to replace and upgrade our computational infrastructure.  That has required us to retire some systems and move researchers on to newer (and improved!) components.  We have also engaged with University Information and Technology (UIT) to aggressively maintain the security posture of our systems.

Chris Sullivan has recently accepted an exciting position within the College of Earth, Oceans and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS) but, for the next two months, will work half time with the CQLS to enable a smooth transition. The CQLS will hire an Acting Assistant Director for Biocomputing, and we anticipate a search for a permanent position.

CQLS Bioinformatics and Data Science group continues to teach CQLS workshops and offer research consulting services.  The CQLS trainers teach introductory level workshops for learning high performance computing and Python programming, and bioinformatics workshops to learn analysis of RNAseq, genotyping, and environmental sequencing.  Bioinformatics research consulting analyzes weekly samples for COVID wastewater testing as well as many custom bioinformatics projects across the University.  The newly formed Oregon Data Science Collaborative (ODSC), in conjunction with UO and PSU, brings data science research into the CQLS.  The ODSC teaches workshops and offers research consulting on data analytics, data integration, and machine learning.  The ODSC just hosted its first state-wide data science symposium.

The coming year we will undertake several processes that will help shape the future of the CQLS. First, we will reengage with our stakeholders and steering committees, revisiting the components of the strategic plan.  Secondly, we will undertake a budget analysis in cooperation with the OSU Research Office.  This will help ensure the continued success of the Center.  Third, our Core Laboratory will work with the RO and help them construct CQLS-centered components for the new Research Equipment Laboratory Management System (RELMS).  This will, in turn, help CQLS better serve its customers.

When I accepted the position of Interim Director, I knew that there were challenges that needed to be addressed. Some involved our emergence from the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.  Others were more structural.  One thing that was certain, however, was that the Research Office is very committed to the success of CQLS.  They have been unwavering in their support and continue to help us navigate these challenging times.  CQLS will continue to be here, to provide support, guidance, and a place to grow your research.

Looking forward to this year,


Kathryn A. Higley, Ph.D., CHP, HPS Fellow
Interim Director CQLS – Center for Quantitative Life Sciences,
Professor, School of Nuclear Science and Engineering