Kevin Childs is an Assistant Professor - Fixed Term in the Department of Plant Biology at Michigan State University. He is also a member of the Center for Genomics-Enabled Plant Science and the Director of the Genomics Core Facility at MSU. Kevin received his Ph.D. in Plant Physiology and an M.S. in Computer Science from Texas A&M University. Recent work in the Childs Lab involves a wide variety of species including Amanita bisporigera, Amanita phalloides, Beta vulgaris, Carnegiea gigantea, Catharanthus roseus, Cleome violacea, Mimulus luteus, Pancium virgatum, Viola pubescens, and Zea mays.
The Childs lab provides bioinformatics support to plant science researchers at MSU. Plant scientists with questions about how to analyze their data sets themselves may contact Kevin for consultation. Researchers may also ask for analyses of small experiments to be run by the Childs lab. There are no fees for these services. Faculty who are writing grant proposals for projects that will require a substantial bioinformatics component are encouraged to contact Kevin regarding ways that the Childs lab can aid the proposal with an agreement to provide computational expertise.
The researchers in the Childs Lab work in a number of areas of plant science. The lab's goals in genomics include the annotation of new plant genomes, the improvement of genome annotation procedures and comparative genomics. Systems biology is used to provide insight into the function of genes and gain insight into developmental and physiological processes. The examination of translational regulation of protein synthesis and the question of how selection on codon usage can affect gene structure are new areas of inquiry in the lab.
All of the scientists in the Childs Lab are trained in bioinformatics as computational analyses are vital to plant biology research. Sequence assembly, sequence variant detection, gene expression analysis, gene network identification, and structural and functional annotation are only possible through the use of bioinformatics. Lab members write their own programs as well as use open-source software developed for the biology community. Computational analyses are performed on lab servers, but during times of exceptional demand, the Michigan State University High Performance Computing Center's grid computing system and public machines available through iPlant are also used.