Data analyst turned artist visualizes life inside cells

JAX researcher Martine Seignon looks out the window. Photo credit: Cloe PoissonJAX researcher Martine Seignon. Photo credit: Cloe Poisson

Martine Seignon is a research data analyst specializing in data visualization in the Single Cell Biology Laboratory based at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Conn. Scientists in the laboratory isolate individual cells and use specialized research methods to explore the biology of these cells. 

Recent advances have made it possible to investigate the full complement of DNA, RNA, proteins and other molecules within a single cell.

Data visualization is the process by which data is represented in a visual or graphical format. This visual display shows statistical and numerical information and has numerous purposes: to improve communication and understanding, to lead to accurate perception of relationships between variables, and sometimes to map data into categories.

Data visualization has a significant impact on single-cell biology and computational analysis. Seignon works with collaborators from JAX and UConn Health to analyze the raw data that comes from the single-cell research process and present it to the scientific team in a highly visual way.

"Depending on how you view a data set, you can tell a different story. If you don't have the right visualization, people can see the story differently," Seignon says, adding that data visualization has become a whole field in itself.

Originally from Haiti, Seignon earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a focus on Molecular Biology/Biological Sciences from Smith College, in Northampton, Mass. She is now using her talents and computational models to demonstrate what is happening inside the cells so scientists know exactly where they should take their research next. She says that her work in the single-cell lab has helped her grow and develop new skills.

"You never stop learning when it comes to computational biology, and I think that's why I'm having so much fun with it," she says. "If you're an artist, visualization with data science is the perfect canvas. It's just a work of art."

Watch Seignon's interview on JAX Career Chats, a video series from JAX Genomic Education that highlights the diversity of jobs, skills and opportunities in the world of biomedical research below.