So about a month ago, Phillip Seitzer, a member of the Facciotti Lab (just next-door to the Eisen Lab) was taking aside undergraduates to test drive his newest piece of software. I ended up being one of those undergraduates and had the privilege to get a personal tour of JContextExplorer 2.0.
JContextExplorer is a java-based program that allows you to compare genes and their neighboring regions across different organisms. But best of all, unlike many of the free software tools available to biologists, JContextExplorer is a GUI (graphical user interface).
Although it’s becoming more and more common for biologists to have a strong computing background, many do not which makes it difficult for them to take full advantage of many of the analysis tools available to them. JContextExplorer aims to change that by providing a user-friendly non-command line-based interface that allows researchers to explore and interpret their genomic data. Furthermore, Seitzer is passionate about making his software user-friendly and has even gone so far as to create video tutorials demonstrating the use of his software.
At the moment, none of my research projects require a tool for exploring genetic contexts, but that didn’t stop me from having fun playing around. If you have any interest in Biology or Genetics, I suggest you do the same. It’s fun and you may find yourself inadvertently learning (which is the best type of learning).