Life at IHB


Dr. Dong Zhang
Lanzhou University, 730000, Lanzhou, China

Hello, my name is ZHANG Dong, I graduated from IHB one year ago. After graduation from university, I was torn between two options: work or study for a master’s degree. Then my older brother took me to visit IHB; I was so excited to see many fishes, algae and other aquatic organisms that I fell in love with IHB and decided to apply for a graduate program in this institute. This decision marked the beginning of the five years dedicated to the MSc and PhD student life. My MSc mentor was prof. LI Wenxiang, and PhD mentor was prof. WANG Guitang. Both of them were patient, knowledgeable, kind and nice.  

Our research group was very united and well organized, my lab mates were very nice, and my student life was colourful. Every week there was a lab meeting and two sports: swimming and playing badminton. My mentors, Prof. Wang and Prof. Li, would also often join us. Whenever I had problems, my mentors and lab mates tried their best to help me. These things made me feel strong and gave me a feeling of being at home.  

My main work was to study the molecular evolution and phylogeny of fish parasites, with a focus on monogeneans. They are small in size (approximately 1 mm), so I needed to use a microscope in order to find them. It was hard for me to find them in the beginning, but I was very excited whenever I did find one. As time went by, I became much better at it. The evolution of the mitochondrial genome of parasites and their molecular phylogeny was my main research content. I spent one entire year learning how to do these analyses. I had to analyze dozens of mitogenomes and make hundreds of phylogenetic trees, which was tedious and time-consuming work. In order to increase my efficiency and reduce the amount of work, I started to learn Python programming during the winter vacation of the first year of graduate school. Eventually, I developed PhyloSuite, an integrated and scalable desktop platform designed to streamline mitogenomic and phylogenetics studies. It allows beginners to quick‐start their way into phylogenetic analysis, and experienced researchers to conduct, store and manage their work in a streamlined way. This work was published in Molecular Ecology Resources, and it has approximately 400 citations.  

Thanks to my mentors, Prof. Wang and Prof. Li, thanks to my lab mates, thanks to IHB, thanks to my family, and thanks to my research partner Ivan Jakovli, all of you made me stronger and more confident. I miss my five years of school days at IHB and I hope I can work and live in IHB in the future.