The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) Student Council was launched in 2004 to facilitate interaction between young scientists in the fields of bioinformatics and computational biology. Since then, the Student Council has successfully run events and programs to promote the development of the next generation of computational biologists. However, in its early years, the Student Council faced a major challenge, in that students from different geographical regions had different needs; no single activity or event could address the needs of all students. To overcome this challenge, the Student Council created the Regional Student Group (RSG) program. The program consists of locally organised and run student groups that address the specific needs of students in their region. These groups usually encompass a given country, and, via affiliation with the international Student Council, are provided with financial support, organisational support, and the ability to share information with other RSGs. In the last five years, RSGs have been created all over the world and organised activities that have helped develop dynamic bioinformatics student communities. In this article series, we present common themes emerging from RSG initiatives...
A competition is a contest between individuals or groups. The gain is often an award or recognition, which serves as a catalyst to motivate individuals to put forth their very best. Such events for recognition and success are part of many International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) Student Council Regional Student Groups (RSGs) activities. These include a popular science article contest, a Wikipedia article competition, travel grants, poster and oral presentation awards during conferences, and quizzes at social events. Organizing competitions is no different than any other event; they require a lot of hard work to be successful. Each event gives remarkable organizational and social experience for students running it, while at the same time the participants of the competitions are rewarded by prizes and recognition. It gives everybody involved an opportunity to demonstrate their extraordinary talents and skills. Competitions are unique because they bring out both the best and worst in people.
Sharing results, techniques, and challenges is paramount to advance our understanding of any field of science. In the scientific community this exchange of ideas is mainly made possible through national and international conferences. Scientists have the opportunity to showcase their work, receive feedback, and improve their presentation skills. However, conferences can be large and intimidating for young researchers. In addition, for many of the more prestigious conferences, the very high number of submissions and low selection rate are major limitations to aspiring young researchers aiming to present their work to the scientific community. To improve student participation and proliferation of information, regional student groups have successfully organized conferences and symposia specifically aimed at students. This gives more students the opportunity to present their work and receive valuable experience and insight from peers and leaders in the field. At the same time, it is an ideal way for students to gain familiarity with the conference experience. In this paper, we highlight some of the benefits of participating in such student conferences, and we review the challenges we have encountered when organizing them. Both topics are illustrated in detail with examples from different ISCB Student Council Regional Student Groups.
As part of the International Society for Computational Biology Student Council (ISCB-SC), Regional Student Groups (RSGs) have helped organise workshops in the emerging fields of bioinformatics and computational biology. Workshops are a great way for students to gain hands-on experience and rapidly acquire knowledge in advanced research topics where curriculum-based education is yet to be developed. RSG workshops have improved dissemination of knowledge of the latest bioinformatics techniques and resources among student communities and young scientists, especially in developing nations. This article highlights some of the benefits and challenges encountered while running RSG workshops. Examples cover a variety of subjects, including introductory bioinformatics and advanced bioinformatics, as well as soft skills such as networking, career development, and socializing. The collective experience condensed in this article is a useful starting point for students wishing to organise their own tailor-made workshops.
What is more inspiring than a discussion with the leading scientists in your field? As a student or a young researcher, you have likely been influenced by mentors guiding you in your career and leading you to your current position. Any discussion with or advice from an expert is certainly very helpful for young people. But how often do we have the opportunity to meet experts? Do we make the most out of these situations? Meetings organized for young scientists are a great opportunity not only for the attendees: they are an opportunity for experts to meet bright students and learn from them in return. In this article, we introduce several successful events organized by Regional Student Groups all around the world, bridging the gap between experts and young scientists. We highlight how rewarding it is for all participants: young researchers, experts, and organizers. We then discuss the various benefits and emphasize the importance of organizing and attending such meetings. As a young researcher, seeking mentorship and additional skills training is a crucial step in career development. Keep in mind that one day, you may be an inspiring mentor, too.
Contributing to a student organization, such as the International Society for Computational Biology Student Council (ISCB-SC) and its Regional Student Group (RSG) program, takes time and energy. Both are scarce commodities, especially when you are trying to find your place in the world of computational biology as a graduate student. It comes as no surprise that organizing ISCB-SC-related activities sometimes interferes with day-to-day research and shakes up your priority list. However, we unanimously agree that the rewards, both in the short as well as the long term, make the time spent on these extracurricular activities more than worth it. In this article, we will explain what makes this so worthwhile: soft skills.
Success is the result of planning, hard work, determination, foresight, and a little bit of luck. Unfortunately, nobody has thought to pave the road to success. Although failure can be discouraging and time-consuming, it presents incredible learning opportunities—the biggest difference between those who succeed and those who abandon their projects lies in their response to adversity. This article reviews events undertaken by the Regional Student Groups (RSGs) in India and Argentina, the problems they encountered, and what can be learned from them. RSG-India attempted to organize an online scientific meeting (also known as a virtual conference) with geographically dispersed stakeholders, a totally new concept for them. RSG-Argentina tackled the challenge of organizing a two-day symposium, their first event ever. Some of the complications they faced were easy to fix, others led to the cancellation of activities, and all of them resulted in valuable lessons. The main goal of this article is to highlight, through their experiences, the universal importance of a healthy panel of contingency plans.
Speed is of the essence in combating Ebola; thus, computational approaches should form a significant component of Ebola research. As for the development of any modern drug, computational biology is uniquely positioned to contribute through comparative analysis of the genome sequences of Ebola strains as well as 3-D protein modeling. Other computational approaches to Ebola may include large-scale docking studies of Ebola proteins with human proteins and with small-molecule libraries, computational modeling of the spread of the virus, computational mining of the Ebola literature, and creation of a curated Ebola database. Taken together, such computational efforts could significantly accelerate traditional scientific approaches. In recognition of the need for important and immediate solutions from the field of computational biology against Ebola, the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) announces a prize for an important computational advance in fighting the Ebola virus. ISCB will confer the ISCB Fight against Ebola Award, along with a prize of US$2,000, at its July 2016 annual meeting (ISCB Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology [ISMB] 2016, Orlando, Florida).
Exchanging ideas with like-minded, enthusiastic people interested in the same topic is crucial for the advancement of a scientist's career. Several Regional Student Groups (RSGs) of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) Student Council have cooperated in the last six years to organize scientific workshops and conferences. With motivated students, it is possible to create a memorable event for fellow scientists; in doing so, the organizers gain valuable experiences. While collaborating across borders and time zones can be difficult, feedback from event organizers was always positive. When limited resources are juxtaposed with great ideas and a network of contacts, the outcome is always an amazing experience, despite organizers being separated geographically across different countries.
You finished your PhD, have been a postdoc for a while, and you start wondering, “What's next?” Suppose you come to the conclusion that you want to stay in academia, and move up the ladder to become a principal investigator (PI). How does one reach this goal given that academia is one of the most competitive environments out there? And suppose you do manage to snatch your dream position, how do you make sure you hit the ground running? Here we report on the workshop “P2P - From Postdoc To Principal Investigator” that we organized at ISMB 2012 in Long Beach, California. The workshop addressed some of the challenges that many postdocs and newly appointed PIs are facing. Three experienced PIs, Florian Markowetz (Group Leader, Cambridge Research Institute, Cancer Research UK), Gary Bader (Associate Professor, The Donnelly Centre, University of Toronto), and Philip Bourne (Professor, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California San Diego), provided insight into the transition from a trainee to PI and shared advice on how to make the best out it.