Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Steve Chaplin
University Communications

Last modified: Thursday, September 10, 2009

IU School of Informatics records milestone; first-ever PhD now at renowned institute

Graduate now working with MacArthur "Genius Award" winner

Sept. 10, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's School of Informatics, founded in 2000 as the first school of its kind in the United States, has officially awarded its first PhD in informatics. The doctoral degree to James Costello was formally recorded by the university on August 31.

James Costello

Chris Meyer

James Costello, above, has become the first recipient of a PhD from Indiana University's School of Informatics. He is now working in the laboratory of one of the world's leading synthetic biologists, James J. Collins of Boston University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Print-Quality Photo

"This is a milestone moment for the School of Informatics and Indiana University," said Bobby Schnabel, dean of the School of Informatics. "And it is particularly exciting that the first informatics doctorate goes to Jim, who has had such outstanding successes here at IU Bloomington, and has such a bright future before him."

Costello has already started postdoctoral work at Boston University with a fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute working with James J. Collins, a Rhodes Scholar who in 2003 became the first bioengineer to receive a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Award." Collins is considered a pioneer in the field of synthetic biology.

"Essentially I will be using computational approaches to model how genes interact with each other," Costello said. "I will be working on both synthetic and systems biology projects involving bacteria and mammalian systems."

While in Bloomington Costello worked with associate professor of informatics and data mining expert Mehmet Dalkilic and assistant professor of biology and adjunct assistant professor of informatics Justen Andrews at the IU Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics. Specifically, he worked on the design, development and implementation of integration methods for connecting disparate sources of Drosophila data to better inform researchers of functional relationships between genes.

Costello received a master of science in informatics from IU in 2004 after coming from the University of Iowa with undergraduate degrees in biology and economics. During his 2003-04 year at IU he received both the School of Informatics's outstanding teaching and achievement awards and the IU Graduate and Professional Student Organization's outstanding graduate student award.

The IU School of Informatics offers bachelor's and PhD programs in informatics and computer science, and master's programs in computer science, bioinformatics, chemical informatics, human computer interaction design and security informatics. Founded in 2000 as the first school of its kind in the United States, the Indiana University School of Informatics is dedicated to research and teaching across a broad range of computing and information technology, with emphases on science, applications and societal implications. For more information, visit

To speak with officlals in the IU School of Informatics, the IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing or with Costello, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or