By Justin Farris

Inside Phosphorus: Meet Bonny, Bioinformatics Associate!

Hey Bonny, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi there! I was born and raised in Gujarat, a state in western India, where I lived for all of my grade school years. In 2003, I moved to the U.S. to pursue my Bachelors degree in Structural Biology and Biophysics at UCONN (go Huskies!). After my undergrad years, I completed my Masters in Bioinformatics at Boston University. I worked in Boston for about 4 years and then moved to NYC when I began working at Phosphorus.

What is your title at Phosphorus? What do you do for the company?

I work as a Bioinformatics Associate for Phosphorus. My work includes analyzing research and clinical data, writing analysis pipelines, designing disease panels, and interacting with Phosphorus clients and partners, among other responsibilities.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

What I specifically love most about working at Phosphorus is analyzing sequencing data. Once data is run through a pipeline, we extract and analyse information and write code to facilitate the process. In general, I really enjoy the problem-solving aspects of my work, and my job becomes even more rewarding in light of opportunities to interact with people of multidisciplinary backgrounds.

What have you learned from working at Phosphorus?

From a technical standpoint, the DNA sequencing technology I’ve become familiar with at Phosphorus constitutes the most novel body of new subject matter I’ve been exposed to. From a human standpoint, productization is a new process to me as well, as is collaboration with such a diverse collection of teams, including Engineering, Clinical, Product, etc.

What has been your favorite project so far?

Honestly, I’ve so far enjoyed all projects I’ve been a part of. I treat everything with an equal sense of importance, because everything we do is important! I think my favorite project, if I had to pick one, would be completing our Cardiology product, because I got to see the process evolve from beginning to end, and now we have a finished product to show for it! But in general, every project is my favorite project.

Do you have a personal mantra?

I like the idea of simplicity in everything I do, including work, personal life, etc. I strive for simplicity and try to avoid making things complicated for no reason. I also like the following quotes.

  • On work: “You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of the work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction.” — Krishna
  • On emotional intelligence: “Anyone can become angry — that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way — this is not easy.” — Aristotle
  • On worry: “We should not worry about what has past, nor should we be anxious about the future; men of discernment deal only with present moment.” — Chanakya

Tell us something about you most people don’t know.

Something people don’t know about me: hmmmm… well, my favorite subject is actually chemistry! Although I had originally been interested in chemistry as a course of study, I wanted to do something to help people more tangibly, and as a result, I toyed with the idea of pursuing medicine at university. I volunteered at the local hospital while I was a sophomore at UCONN, but quickly realized that I can’t stomach the sight of people in pain. I actually fainted a few times while volunteering and ultimately decided to try to help people in another way, especially since I am a math-oriented person. I didn’t particularly want to do lab work, so I chose bioinformatics, because it combines both biology and data analysis.

Another thing most people don’t know is that I really enjoy teaching! I started by teaching math and chemistry at community college and continue teaching to this day. I was recently involved in a local NYC math-tutoring program on weekends, but had to give it up due to time constraints. However, I always love the opportunity to help educate others.

I also enjoy certain board games, such as the “18X” board game series, which includes “1830” and “1854” — both centered on 18th-century railroad construction and stock trading. “Indonesia” is a somewhat similar plotter game, in which players produce and ship commodities throughout the country. I usually play these games with 5 or more friends who also enjoy board games.

What is one thing you are looking forward to in your free time this next year?

Even though I have no specifically constructed travel plans, I am still hoping to visit either Europe, Peru, or Bhutan soon. Bhutan is especially interesting to me. I’ve read a lot about the beauty of the country and how its nature has been very well preserved. The majority of people in Bhutan apparently live as farmers, away from the city. The country is a small monarchy tucked between two of the largest countries in the world (India and China), but it has a very high happiness index in surveys I’ve seen. I’m not sure why this is exactly, but I think maybe the mountains and beautiful weather must play a part. At the least, it’s a very unique destination that I’d like to experience.

Do you have any hobbies?

My outdoor hobbies (as opposed to my indoor hobbies, above) are tennis, volleyball, and cricket. I will wake up at 5 or 6 in the morning for an opportunity to play any of them!

Which ice cream flavor best describes you?

Cherry. The sweet vanilla flavor mixed with the tartness of the cherry is simplicity with a punch. It isn’t a crazy mixture of a bunch of things, but it delivers a strong flavor in a simple way. As for pure enjoyment, I also like vanilla made from unprocessed milk, with mixed nuts added.

What singer or musical group do you think deserves more recognition than they currently get?

I can’t point to a particular artist or group, but I am a big fan of old, poetic Hindi songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s, some of which are Bollywood, but not in the overblown style of contemporary Bollywood music. I also like old Sanskrit hymns that use the tabla, the sitar, and the mrindangam — all common instruments in Hindi music as well. Generally, I like folk music. I am not very interested in loud, crazy music.

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