The Voice: Fall 2002

The Voice

Kamps combines biology and computer science research

Anastasha Kamps found her summer research job when a recruiter from Michigan State University came on campus. Wayne Dyksen, a graduate of Calvin College, was looking for good students to apply for internships in his department. Kamps’s double major in computer science and biology gave her an edge.

“So much research and treatment today involves hooking people up to machines or exploring and treating patients by machines in the body, that people who know something about computers and biology are going to be in demand,” Kamps says.

In addition, much of biological research today is done by simulation on computer. A programmer sets the general rules for how organisms act and watches the computer to see how they are affected by other influences. Almost any biology area is going to be dealing with computers in the future, Kamps says.

Kamps studied error correction in Avida. Avida are digital bacteria that evolve by means of natural selection and random mutation. Instead of actually watching cell reproduction of a living organism, Kamps used and wrote more code for a computer program that simulates cell reproduction. The goal was to study the pressures that cause mutation rates to increase or decrease.

“At the beginning of the summer I did not think I’d go on to graduate school, but I was stretched a lot. I’m still not sure what I’ll do, but this was a very worthwhile summer.”

Kamps, who is a senior, needs to go a fifth year to complete both of her majors, but she’s already been offered a position in the lab in which she worked if she decides to go to graduate school.