Computational Biology

Here’s an update on my first week in the CBL lab!

Tuesday: CSUMS had a nice orientation breakfast to welcome everyone. Then, I met with my advisor and we discussed my project and lab expectations. My project is actually changing from what we had initially discussed. For now, I’m learning how to use VCell and reading about calcium signals in RBL-2H3 cells instead of cardiac myocytes. I’ll blog in more detail about my project next time. I’m also working on a few problems in Matlab. For anyone that is interested, here is the link to VCell (http://www.nrcam.uchc.edu/vcell_software/login.html).

Wednesday-Friday: I had the amazing opportunity to attend the NHLBI-VCU Cardiac Modeling Conference, which hosted speakers from all over the world! I attended lectures with my lab on: Cardiac Electrophysiology Modeling, Modeling Normal and Pathological Calcium Signaling Pathways in the Heart, The Baroreflex, and Cardiovascular Risk Prediction.
During the lunch break, we went to the poster sessions and had the opportunity to talk to the presenters about their research. One of my favorite posters was “Neurofilament kinetics and axon caliber in mouse optic nerve” probably because it was the only neuro poster. I was excited that I could understand what the posters were about at a basic level, thanks to my CBM class last semester. Eventually, I’d like to get to the point where I understand why certain methods are used over others. It was definitely helpful to have people in my lab with me that I could ask basic questions. The conference was a great way to get exposure to the world of mathematical modeling. By the end of the week, I’d learned in great detail about calcium alternans and more than I thought possible about cardiac physiology and arrhythmias. Some of my favorite talks were on the last day, which were about premature infants, public health and genetic testing.
One of the benefits of attending a conference is the opportunity to network. It was a wonderful surprise to see a visiting physics professor I had last summer. I also met someone who is getting his MD/PHD at Cornell. It was great to hear his perspective on grad school and to get some advice on life after college. It was a little intimidating to be surrounded by so many brilliant people, but it was worth it.
I would definitely recommend attending a conference in your field if you have the opportunity!