Dr Thomas Connor
Location:Cardiff School of Biosciences, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff CF10 3AX
Throughout my career to date I have worked on projects featuring a wide array of organisms. This is principally because rather than being focused on examining a particular organism, my research is based in the first instance around the fundamental narratives of pathogen evolution. The processes that underpin the diversity we see in the microbial world are often the same whatever species we look at; although the results they produce can be markedly different.
My research is made possible by a combination of technologies that enable us to explore organisms at a resolution that has never before been possible. Firstly, whole genome sequencing, combined with high quality metatdata provides the datasets that we can use to derive the answers to the questions that we seek. Secondly, using computational and mathematical approaches, we are able to make sense of the “Big Data” challenge that is posed by the large, rich datasets that we produce.
Research within my group is therefore characterised by developing and applying population genomics, comparative genomics, and phylogenetics to elucidate the natural histories of microbial pathogens. In a number of cases we have developed tools or approaches to analyse our data. However, in all cases we start first with the biological questions, and then develop the approaches to answer our question. So it could be said that while what we do is broadly Bioinformatics, the research focus is on the Biology first, and the informatics provides the tools to unlock the data that we produce.