Dr. Stephanie van Wyk is a research scientist with more than 12 years of research experience in bioinformatics, biochemistry, and genetics. She is based at Stellenbosch University and serves as a bioinformatics researcher at the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI). Here, she generates Next Generation Sequence (NGS) data to support pandemic mitigation, not only locally but across Africa. The work at CERI on molecular epidemiology remained a cornerstone to facilitate timely intervention responses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She is equally experienced in laboratory and bioinformatic environments, but her true passion lies in comparative genomics. Throughout her postgraduate and postdoctoral career, she served as a supervisor, laboratory manager, and training officer, mentoring a range of audiences. She represents her institute on research committees and forums such as the Africa CDC, the NGS-BRICS consortium (NGS Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and NGS-South Africa. She is passionate about Python and has strong experience working in Linux environments.
During her years of working as a bioinformatic scientist, she has gained valuable experience in genome assembly, quality control, and working on the evolution of complex traits and phenotypes. A quote from one of her favourite evolutionary biologists John Taylor states: “Genetic variation is the stuff of evolution”. Indeed, investigating the evolutionary potential introduced by large- and small-scale genetic alterations has been the focus of her postgraduate studies that she completed at the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), at the University of Pretoria. Here, she worked on the magical world of fungal genetics investigating the gain and losses of entire chromosomes, adaptations that resulted from horizontal gene transfer and the manner the accumulation of mutations can drive species divergence and alter host-pathogen interactions.