Meet Adam Blanchard of the University of Nottingham (United Kingdom). Adam is a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science - Cellular Microbiology with Sabine Totemeyer as his mentor. He is on campus for the Programming for Biology course.
What are your research interests? What are you working on?
Most of my research interests are based around host/pathogen interactions, focusing on bacteria with an impact on animal welfare. I enjoy implementing novel methods, such as metatranscriptomics, to investigate the host response to complex bacterial communities and which genetic factors play a role in disease.
Was there something specific about the Programming for Biology course that drew you to apply?
Knowing a scripting language is becoming increasingly important in biology, so attending a course like this will enable me to gain a head start that will undoubtedly benefit my career. The delivery style of the Programming for Biology course material seemed very concise. I have taken similar online courses which I felt lacked the personal interaction needed when troubleshooting and gaining a deeper understanding of the topics.
What is your key takeaway from the course?
The Programming for Biology course is very well organized. There is a good balance of "need to know" information and other bits which have allowed for an effective learning experience; as you do not get bogged down with unnecessary detail.
How many CSHL courses have you attended? Do you have any near future plans to attend another course at CSHL?
This is my first one and, if I get the opportunity, I would love to participate in the Immersive Approaches to Biological Data Visualization course as it looks very interesting and is showcasing novel ideas. I really enjoy science outreach and an important aspect of this is data visualization. I feel being able to convey complex results in an easy-to-understand image is a powerful tool in helping people understand what you do and are trying to achieve.
If someone curious in attending a future iteration of Programming for Biology course asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
The environment at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is very positive. The instructors and teaching assistants are there to help at every step which is helpful because the course is tough. Also since all of the course participants begin the course at a similar level of understanding, there are plenty of opportunity for team work.
What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
The course instructors, teaching assistants and members of staff have been fantastic and have provided a really enjoyable two weeks. They balanced the course schedule well with lectures, practical sessions, sports and field trips. They also make sure you do not forget to go for meals when you are engrossed in the problem sets.
Adam received a scholarship from the Helmsley Charitable Trust to cover a portion of his course tuition. On behalf of Adam, thank you to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend a CSHL course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network.