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Sep - Geoffrey Schiebinger

Speaker: Geoffrey Schiebinger

Talk Title: Towards a mathematical theory of development

Event Details


September 15th, 2022, Thursday 6:00pm - 9:00pm PT

St. Paul's Hospital Site: Cullen Room (SPH1477)

Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of British Columbia


Geoffrey Schiebinger is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics, and an Associate Member of the School of Biomedical Engineering at the University of British Columbia. He graduated from Stanford in 2011 with a BS in Math and Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering. He then went to Berkeley for graduate school, where he obtained his PhD in Statistics, under the supervision of Ben Recht. For postdoc, Geoff went to MIT to study with Aviv Regev, Eric Lander and Philippe Rigollet. Geoffrey has won numerous awards, including the 2021 Maud Menten Prize in Genetics (awarded to the new principal investigator with the highest ranking CIHR project grant), a 2019 Career Award at the Scientific Interface from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and an award for best contribution to the 2017 conference on Statistical Challenges in Single Cell Analysis.


New measurement technologies like single-cell RNA sequencing are bringing 'big data' to biology. One of the most exciting prospects associated with this new trove of data is the possibility of studying temporal processes, such as differentiation and development. In this talk, we introduce the basic elements of a mathematical theory to answer questions like How does a stem cell transform into a muscle cell, a skin cell, or a neuron? How can we reprogram a skin cell into a neuron? We model a developing population of cells with a curve in the space of probability distributions on a high-dimensional gene expression space. We design algorithms to recover these curves from samples at various time-points and we collaborate closely with experimentalists to test these ideas on real data.