Michael Schatz, a faculty member in Stony Brook University’s Department of Computer Science, has been given a prestigious 2015 Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, which is presented to outstanding early-career scientists in the United States and Canada. The fellowships “seek to stimulate fundamental research” and promote the work of scientists and scholars of outstanding promise. These two-year fellowships are awarded annually to 126 individuals who are recognized for their unique potential in their field. Past Sloan awardees include physicist Richard Feynman and 42 others who went on to win the Nobel Prize in their fields.
Schatz is an adjunct assistant professor at Stony Brook and he is an associate professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). His areas of interest include genomics, genome assembly and validation, cloud computing, metagenomics, and high performance computing. Schatz is also a quantitative biologist and faculty member of CSHL’s Simons Center for Quantitative Biology.
By applying quantitative methodologies, Schatz analyzes large data sets generated in studies of people with diseases such as cancer and autism. His lab’s research focuses on the development of scalable algorithms and systems to analyze DNA sequences, concentrating on the assembly and alignment of next generation sequencing reads, and related downstream analyses. These systems have been used to reconstruct the genomes of previously unsequenced organisms, probe sequence variations, and to explore a host of biological features across the tree of life.
Computer Science Chair Arie Kaufman praised Schatz for being recognized by the Sloan Foundation: “Without a doubt, Michael is one of the true scholars in his field who show unmatched promise. The Department and University are fortunate to have him as a faculty member with such a thirst for answers.”
After earning his PhD in 2010 from the University of Maryland, Schatz began teaching genetics, computational biology, and physical and quantitative biology courses at Stony Brook. His notable work includes inventing algorithms that greatly reduce the errors produced by the latest genome sequencing devices. He is currently working on developing software for the smallest sequencing device produced commercially and made by Oxford Nanopore. Schatz and his lab of researchers are writing a software program that sharpens the sequence output of this device and effectively reduces the error rate.