Hello! My name is Marley and I am a sophomore at Bard College studying Mathematics.

Although a math major, I also have a strong interest in biology and computer science. To gain more experience in fields that combine my interests, I participate in summer research:

Last summer (2014) I was chosen to join the Center the for Integrative Study of Animal Behavior REU at Indiana University, Bloomington. I worked in Dr. Michael Muehlenbein's lab, analyzing the effects of ecotourism on disease transmission between humans and non-human primates.

This summer, I am honored to have been chosen to participate in the Undergraduate Research Program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories (URP). I will be working on computational breast cancer research under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Schatz and Maria Nattestad for 10 weeks.

URP Project Abstract

"Reconstructing the breast cancer genome"

Structural variations in the genome account for some of the most deadly features associated with aggressive cancers such as the HER2 amplification breast cancers. Twenty percent of breast cancers are HER2 amplified. Many studies on HER2 amplification use SK-BR-3, a model cell line from a patient with this often-fatal strain. Though previous analysis has revealed multiple amplifications and deletions, the Schatz lab has fully sequenced the SK-BR-3 genome, and, using the new PacBio long-read technique, intends to map all structural variations and retrace the steps that prompt their creation. This analysis will involve several processes: first the DNA is sequenced; then the structural break-points are ascertained using "split-read" alignments; from that information, structural variations are identified and analyzed; and finally, genome threading retraces the path each fragment of DNA took in order to create those structural variations, recreating the original SK-BR-3 chromosomes. A full mapping of the SK-BR-3 genome and the processes of structural variation within it will serve as an invaluable resource for breast cancer researchers, allowing them to better understand the overall transformations in cancer genomes and, more specifically, how these changes cause HER2 amplification. Ultimately the information gained from this project will be applied to future research on breast cancer tumors to help defeat this devastating disease.

Research Interests

Scientific: Biology - Genetic Disorders, Sex and Reproduction, Disease Transmission | Computer Science - Computational Biology | Applied Math - Operations Research.

Other: Acting, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, Religion, Dance, Gender and Sexuality studies, Greek Mythology.

Technical Skills

LaTeX | Python | Java


Marley Alford
Mathematics Major
Bard College
Class of 2017

E-mail: ma8642 <at>

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