Clara Smoniewski, a student of the Integrated Biosciences PhD program, and a graduate research assistant in the Zimmer Lab gathered with interdisciplinary scientists and software developers from all over the globe to fight COVID-19 as part of the HackseqRNA: COVID-19 Ultra-hackathon for three days on May 22 to 24. Over 100 people participated online to work on 15 hackathon projects, ranging from single-cell virtual reality to predicting strains of Influenza.

During the hackathon, Smoniewski was a member of the hackathon's Group 9, modeling potential RNA with their team lead, Dr. Amber Paulson. During the three day event, the group created a bioinformatics pipeline to predict and visualize possible viral microRNAs (miRNA) and their potential binding sites on human RNA. 

After wrapping up the event in May, Smoniewski and her team hope to continue to finetune their code before analyzing the predicted networks, and releasing the pipeline for public use in the near future. "We hope our network will be used for future studies that test potential RNA: RNA interactions in vivo and may eventually inform antisense RNA therapy for SARS-CoV-2 infection," Smoniewski said.