Cohen Lab


Congrats, James!

Congratulations to James Shepherdson for successfully defending his thesis, "Multiplex functional assessment of variant effect in the retinal transcription factor CRX"! Watch a recording of the defense here.


Fourth Cohen Research Conference

The fourth annual Cohen Research Conference was held October 23-25, 2023 in Michigan City, IN. Lab members presented talks on big ideas or out-there experiments. Continuing the tradition from prior CRCs, we also enjoyed communal cooking, a campfire near the lake, and a dunes hike in Indiana Dunes National Park which passed through Cowles Bog, a site of seminal research on ecological succession!

Goodbye Ryan, Avi, and Kai!

The lab met at Barak's house to congratulate Ryan, Avi and Kai on their successful thesis defenses and wish them well in their next endeavors! Ryan will be starting a postdoc in Cole Trapnell's lab at UW, Avi will be joining the team at Verily Life Sciences, and Kai will be starting a postdoc in Justin Kinney's lab at CSHL.

Well done, Kai!

Congratulations to Kai Loell for bringing the Cohen lab defense record to 3/3 this week by successfully defending his thesis, "Biophysically-informed models of heterogeneity in transcription factor activity"! Watch a recording of the defense here.


Congratulations Avi!

The second of three in this week's Cohen lab defense-o-rama — congratulations to Avi Ramu for successfully defending his thesis, "Sources and consequences of cell-to-cell variability in gene expression"! Watch a recording of the defense here.


Congratulations Ryan!

Congratulations to Ryan Friedman for kicking off the Cohen lab's three-defense week by successfully defending his thesis, "Iterative machine learning of a cis-regulatory grammar"! Watch a recording of the defense here.


AI Art Gallery in Barak's Office

When the PI is away, the grad students play!

Every year when Barak goes out of town for a long time, we prank his office as a welcome back surprise. Barak has recently taken a strong interest in Paul Cezanne, so this year we turned his office into an art gallery. We used the AI DALL-E 2 to generate fake art and hung it next to real art. We used another AI called ChatGPT to generate fake museum labels to accompany the fake art.

In addition, James used 24 photos of Barak from over the years and the "Dreambooth" technique to teach another AI, Stable Diffusion, what Barak looks like. Then, James asked Stable Diffusion to generate portraits of Barak in the style of several different artists. The collection of portraits is truly stunning -- there's even a museum label from ChatGPT emphasizing the mystery of the portraits' recurring subject!

Here are some pictures of the decor. Can you tell which pieces are real works of art?

Below is what ChatGPT had to say about the portrait collection:

"The Many Faces of _______: A Portrait Collection"

This collection features a series of portrait paintings, all depicting the same individual. The artwork on display was created by a diverse group of artists, each bringing their own unique style and perspective to the portrayed subject.

Who was this person, and why were they painted by so many different artists? These paintings offer a glimpse into the life and personality of the subject, but leave much to the imagination.

From the traditional techniques of the Old Masters, to the bold brushstrokes and vibrant colors of modern art, this collection showcases the versatility and enduring appeal of portraiture. The subjects depicted range from formal poses in elegant attire, to more relaxed and casual depictions.

Despite the varied styles and approaches, each of these paintings captures the essence of the subject and conveys a sense of their personality. This collection serves as a testament to the enduring power of portraiture as a means of preserving the human spirit on canvas, and leaves us wondering about the mystery of the person depicted.

Congratulations Clarice!

Congratulations to Clarice Hong for successfully defending her thesis, "Understanding gene regulation with high-throughput genome-integrated reporter assays"! Watch a recording of her defense here.

Third Cohen Research Conference

The third annual Cohen Research Conference was held October 17-19, 2022 in Cadiz, KY. Everyone presented a talk about big questions or ideas they have. We also enjoyed communal cooking, a campfire near the water, a hike through the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, moonshine tasting, puzzles and board games, guitar performances by Barak and rotation student AJ, and more! We also stopped in Metropolis, IL to see a 15-foot statue of Superman. A great time was had by all. The CRC has certainly been cemented as a lab tradition!

Photo credit: James

New Paper from the Lab

Kai's paper about how transcription factor activation domains regulate gene expression noise is out in Cell Reports. Congrats Kai!