• Project Title: Genetic Simulators: Useful Tool or Scam?

  • BASIS Advisor: Carrie May

  • Internship Location: Work from Home, hosted by Georgetown University

  • Onsite Mentor: Matthew Hamilton

Have you wonder if the simulators you use in Biology class are accurate, or just outputs random numbers? These simulators are written using programing languages such as python or C++, how they work is by accepting input variables and then yielding output data, graphics, or relationships between variables. They are used in fields from high school education to graduate research, yet some of them are over 20 years old! With many different topics—genetic drift, linkage disequilibrium, and estimating reproduction rates—being simulated in population genetics, I want to test if these simulators are accurate. My virtual mentor site, Georgetown University, as well as many other universities, has many published simulators that I can draw samples simulations on. After learning more about the composition of these simulators, I will also program one by myself. Then I will investigate publications by institutions and environmental agencies to gather real world data about population genetics for two or three species in specific locations. The final step is to compare these data with the results of the chosen genetic simulations and the one written by me. The simulations should yield results within statistical random error range compared to the real-life data, if not, it will prove that simulators like this need revision and correction so researchers using them won’t be misled, and students and teachers could use them in class and lab with confidence.