Ashlesha Patil-Bioinformatics Pathway-Self Assessment

Why I joined the Bioinformatics pathway?
I have always been interested in coding and programming, but never got to try my hand at it much, until my second year abroad at UC Berkeley, where I took many classes on R and doing statistical analyses using R and its packages. Coming from a neuroscience major, bioinformatics interested me, as it gave me the opportunity to apply my knowledge in R to the biological aspects of many diseases, and analysing the data produced from the wet lab experiments. During the June session, I got a lot more confident in using R and the specific packages needed for microarray analysis, and more familiar with the documentation of these packages, and also working closely with my June leads and mentors during Office Hours, inspired me to be part of Stemaway in the July session and guide new interns through the whole bioinformatics pipeline.

Things Learned:
Technical Skills:

  • Batch Correction and working with two datasets, merging of data
  • Working with new functional analysis techniques such as STRING DB, GSEA, Transcriptional factor analysis and Survival analysis on GPEIA
  • Also learning to interpret the results of the functional analysis

Tools:

  • More R Bioconductor packages
  • STRING DB
  • GSEA
  • GEPIA
  • MSigDB

Soft Skills:

  • Leadership skills, and engaging a team involving varying backgrounds in bioinformatics
  • Hosting presentations and technical training webinars, vastly working on my presentation skills and confidence in presenting
  • Communicating with my team members, other leads and also the mentors

Tasks Completed

  • Hosted a webinar in the beginning of the internship outlining the important biological terms and definitions and also going over the research paper in more detail and the main points and results of the paper
  • Lead weekly team meetings for Team 1 with the PM and technical leads to go over the weekly deliverables and address any issues or concerns with the previous weeks tasks, to make sure the team is on track
  • Lead the weekly meetings for Team 1 presentations of their weekly deliverables, and evaluate and give effective and constructive feedback to interns
  • Offered and helped interns with their technical and biological questions during the weekly office hours
  • Completed the weekly deliverables before presenting them to the interns the following Team meeting
  • Engaged interns in discussions and also presented information on soft skills regarding LinkedIn and Networking, Cultural Competency and also Resume/CV Building
  • Prepared and hosted a webinar with other leads on how to make a professional presentation and help interns prepare for their final presentations
  • Attended happy hours each week to meet more interns from other teams as well and connect with them

Challenges

  • Engaging my team on a virtual platform, and an initial challenge was dealing with unresponsive team members, but this was overcome by addressing them more directly and asking if their cameras can be switched on, to create a more effective meeting and discussion
  • Many of our team members had dropped or started switching from participant to observer, hence I worked with the other leads to create new sub-teams and also make sure that they are all of varying expertise and background, so they can share their knowledge and also learn from each other
  • Addressing more of the technical questions posed during office hours, some were more challenging than others and required more R knowledge than I had, hence I spent more time learning more in R, using the internet and also the functional help documentation to be able to better help the interns. Overall, this made me more confident in the language as well

Further Reflections:
This has been a truly wonderful experience and has given me firsthand opportunities in leading a team and working with them from the start to finish. It has bought me out of my shy shell and made me a more confident person overall. I have gained a lot in my teaching skills and I am excited to use all my knowledge gained this summer in my final year research project.

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