Introducing Sweden's computational biology student organisation

By Nazeefa Fatima, Martin Rydén and Cathrine Bergh

RSG-Sweden celebrates one year!

This post was contributed by RSG-Sweden.

Computer science is becoming an increasingly important component of life sciences and medical research. The quest for finding answers to complex biological problems has increased the demand for computational training and skills. The vast amount of data brings with itself new challenges and new opportunities. Therefore, in the field of computational biology, it is now more important than ever to work towards solutions together. This can only be achieved by developing communities that serve as a platform to share knowledge and foster collaborations. Empowering synergy of interdisciplinary teams is an important step to achieve our common goal of developing the world through science and technology.

The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) and its Student Council (SC) are the global organizations that work towards building the community of a next generation of researchers in the field of computational biology. The Student Council serves as a leading platform to develop and support student communities across the globe. Its dedicated members work voluntarily and passionately devoting their time towards community development and education outreach [1]. One of the SC’s major initiatives is a concept of Regional Student Group (RSG) introduced in 2006 [2].

Building communities is a crucial step towards cross-disciplinary research [3]. It provides exposure to training resources that can help us, the future generation of scientists, realise our potential for academia and industry. An equally important task is to spread the knowledge and encourage the public to learn about the rapidly developing fields of bioinformatics and computational biology. More efforts towards education outreach and public engagement are required in both areas. With such aims in mind, we decided to launch Sweden’s computational biology student organisation known as the Regional Student Group-Sweden.

RSG-Sweden

The idea is to encourage more students and early-career researchers to get interested in the fascinating intersection of computer science and biology, while also helping them get past their fear of learning programming. Our mission is motivated by that of our parent organisations, with an aim towards students and researchers across Sweden. Our goals include making the computational biology community welcoming and diverse, promoting research, providing educational and training resources, sharing information about career opportunities, and encouraging participation at international conferences.

The initiative has received a great response and support from students, other RSGs, people at the ISCB, and researchers at prestigious universities - that our mission to expand the computational biology community of Sweden is not only valuable but also important. Therefore, with our concept of branches, we plan to take RSG-Sweden to different locations across Sweden.

Map showing RSG-Sweden branches

Since the launch in February 2018, RSG-Sweden has established four branches with the Lund branch being the first and the Gothenburg branch being the latest.

Setting up a branch is a great opportunity for students and researchers to increase visibility of their, for example, research group, computational biology facility, bioinformatics centre as well as institution in a wider scientific community. Together with our branches, we have made progress in meeting our objectives by organizing events such as seminars, journal clubs, online networking hours, and career events. In the future, we plan to bring new ideas such as organising hackathons, collaboration with industries across Sweden and with other RSGs across Europe. Sweden rushes in second place in the recently commenced race of RSGs amongst the Nordic countries. Up until now, RSG-Denmark was the only Nordic bioinformatics student organisation, founded in 2015. We hope our shared initiative will encourage our neighbouring countries to build a computational biology community for current and future researchers.

References

  1. Anupama J, Francescatto M, Rahman F, et al. (2018) The ISCB Student Council Internship Program: Expanding computational biology capacity worldwide. PLOS Computational Biology 14(1):e1005802. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005802.
  2. Macintyre G, Michaut M, Abeel T (2013) The Regional Student Group Program of the ISCB Student Council: Stories from the Road. PLOS Computational Biology 9(9):e1003241. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003241.
  3. Budd A, Corpas M, Brazas MD, et al. (2015) A Quick Guide for Building a Successful Bioinformatics Community. PLOS Computational Biology 11(2):e1003972. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003972.

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