Marouen Ben Guebila, a postdoctoral fellow working with John Quackenbush, has been involved as a mentor in the Fatima Fellowship program which offers students from all around the world a research experience at top US universities. The goal of the fellowship is to help students strengthen their profile to be competitive for PhD applications in the USA by conducting research projects in machine learning, computer science, computational biology, and social sciences. This past year, Dr. Ben Buebila mentored three students from India, Pakistan, and Chad who helped develop web-based implementations of software developed by Quackenbush and his collaborators. These students worked remotely but joined group meetings to share their progress and learn from other members of the team. The work of these students will not only make these tools easier to use, but will help ensure reproducibility of gene regulatory network analysis and the sampling of convex spaces for a variety of biological applications.
The Fatima fellowship is named for Fatima Al-Fihri who in 859 CE established the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, to help educate immigrants to the country. The fellowship program accepts applications each December and pairs accepted students with labs and mentors to conduct research starting in April, giving the fellows nine months of remote research experience. In 2020, 300 students applied for the fellowship program and after passing programming tests, 48 were selected and paired with mentors.