Hi, I am Nicolae Sapoval, but I usually go by Nick. I grew up in Chisinau, Moldova. I moved to the USA in 2014. I obtained my B.Sc. degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Chicago in 2018. I worked at TruQua in Chicago, IL for a bit less than a year after finishing my undergraduate degree. Now, I am at Rice University in Houston, TX pursuing a PhD in Computer Science. Feel free to peruse my Google Scholar page if you are interested in chatting about a specific research topic.
My current research interests are built around understanding of complex microbial genomic mixtures from functional and phylogenomic points of view. Beyond that my general interests are at the broad intersection of computer science and data analytics and their applications to biological systems. In particular, I am interested in mathematically sound approaches to analyzing metagenomic sequencing data and quantifying inter and intra-sample differences at scale. While the broad scope of contextualizing differences between samples: (a) across environmental gradients and (b) with respect to various models of evolution is one of my overarching motivations, the sub-area of understanding these differences with respect to pathogenicity and pathogen surveillance tasks is also of great interest to me. Some of my prior work during the PhD covered identifying presence/absence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in wastewater data, and analyzing within-host diversity of SARS-CoV-2.
In my free time, I travel, cook, make cocktails, brew cider and mead, and try to teach.
Before starting at Rice I did a bit of research with Biological Sciences Department at the University of Chicago working on the questions of conformational transition and substrate binding in insulin degrading enzyme. I used molecular dynamics simulations (both all atom classical Langevin dynamics and various metadynamics and coarse-grained approaches) and high dimensional data analysis techniques.