Dr. McKinney is a native Tulsan who did his undergraduate work summa cum laude at the University of Tulsa in mathematics and physics. He did his graduate work at the University of Oklahoma obtaining the PhD in physics. After that, he went to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center as a postdoctoral fellow where he pursued his interests in biomathematics and computational biology. From there, he became an assistant professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine. In 2009, he accepted an appointment as the William K. Warren, Jr., Chair in Bioinformatics at the University of Tulsa.
Education and Degrees Earned
- Ph.D. Physics, University of Oklahoma, 2003
- M.S. Physics, University of Oklahoma, 1999
- B.S. Mathematics & Physics, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, University of Tulsa, 1996
Areas of Academic Specialty
Dr. McKinney's doctoral dissertataion in theoretical physics involved the development of a quantum many-body perturbation theory applied to Bose-Einstein condensates and quantum nanostructures. Excited by developments in genomics, he turned his attention from studying physical interactions between atoms molecules to studying statistical interaction in biological networks. Following his PhD work, he pursued computational biology and statistical genetics as a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University's Center for Human Genetics Research.
Areas of Research Focus
At Tulsa, Dr. McKinney is building a computational biology lab to develop predictive mathematical models from data that reflect the complexity and dynamics in real biological systems. His group is dedicated to developing statistical and machine learning approaches to characterize network motifs of genes and other biomarkers that are pathologically altered. He is particularly interested in understanding the human response to vaccines such as anthrax, smallpox and influenza.
In collaboration with researchers at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR), he is developing computational techniques for understanding interactions that influence brain function.
Previous Teaching Experience
Prior to returning to the University of Tulsa in 2009, Dr. McKinney was an assistant professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine.
Previous Relevant Work Experience
After completing the PhD in theoretical physics, Dr. McKinney was a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University's Center for Human Genetics Research and Program in Biomathematics.