Behind Guthub.


My name is Zach Carlson and I'm the guy behind Guthub. I'm currently in Ann Arbor, MI studying at the University of Michigan. My motivation behind the site manifested by working in a diabetes research lab, where I was given the opportunity to learn how to process microbiome data and apply that knowledge toward meaningful research.

While learning how to process microbiome data and while teaching others those same techniques, I noticed how long it took. If a hypothetical undergraduate student came into our lab for only one year, getting involved with the microbiome would completely out of the picture. It would have taken me more time to teach them the techniques than the amount of time they'd have to actually use those techniques independently.

By making microbiome data processing more accessible, everyone wins.

  • Primary investigators (PIs) within bioinformatics could now teach undergraduates how to make microbiome figures faster and easier.
  • PIs outside of the bioinformatics field could now process their own data more quickly, removing the all-too-common bottleneck that too many scientists are familiar with when relying on other labs to process their data.
  • Undergraduates who are familiar with bioinformatics now don't have to tinker with their own code any time they have to make a figure, which inevitably leads to broken code and wasted time.
  • Undergraduates with no bioinformatic experience are able to get more involved with exploring and creating microbiome data without having to spend the majority of their time learning how to code or use complicated programs.

And thus, this website is for everyone. For undergraduates, PIs, and everyone in between, regardless of coding experience. There are Explainers that give a brief introduction to bioinformatics, and for more advanced users, the Explainers provide step-by-step instructions on how to analyze different types of figure.

My love of coding and wet lab collided with this website. I created Guthub by applying the knowledge I gained from Datacamp Courses, Kaylie Bullock , and one too many Stackoverflow questions. These apps were entirely created in Shiny and R, with a few added bells and whistles. While I hope to regularly update this website, I do this on my free time, which may vary in the future, as I hope to complete a Ph.D. in bioinformatics starting in 2019.

As stated above, this is all done in my free time. While some days I'm tempted to embrace this website fully, it's not feasible financially. For the time beginning, I want this website to be entirely free. To dedicate more time to this site, and increase the frequency of updates, please consider donating to my Paypal. Your donation will directly support app development and the cost of running this website and hosting all the required files that make your data processing easier.

I always strive to make Guthub as assessible as possible. Does something not make sense? Is there a bug somewhere? Is one of the Shiny Apps not working? Please do not hesitant to email me your thoughts, bugs, suggestions, and cat pictures at


Personal Essays.

In spirit of writing, I wanted to add more creative elements that touch on personal narrative and aim to educate readers on basic bioinformatic figure types, such as a Relative Abundance plot or a PCoA plot. To achieve this, I took the visual aspects of the corresponding plots and apply them to myself. Whereas a traditional Relative Abundance plot looks at the composition of bacteria in a given community, I wanted to look at my own composition in terms of my identity. Additionally, whereas a traditional PCoA plot looks at a spatial representation of the differences between two communities, I wanted to look at how living in two different communities changed me. This desire manifested in the essays below. If you want to see more of my writing, visit my personal Wordpress. My personal writing - on Wordpress or in the essays below - is in no way affiliated with the mission and ideology of Guthub, the University of Michigan, or Mothur.

The Relative Abundance of Me.

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I glance in the mirror and no longer recognize myself. Who have I become?

Two Halves.

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The two peninsulas of Michigan are only connected by an unnatural, and sometimes dangerous, bridge. Am I the same way?