International Society for Computational Biology

Looking back at the Student Council Symposium (SCS) 2015

The Student Council (SC), part of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB), aims at nurturing and assisting the next generation of computational biologists. Our membership and leadership are composed of volunteer students and post-docs in computational biology and related fields. The main goal of our organization is to offer networking and soft skill development opportunities to our members via workshops, career talks, and symposium.

For over a decade, the SC Symposiums have become the flagship events of the organization that congregates students and young researchers in the field of computational biology. Organized by student volunteers from all over the world, the symposiums provide early-career researchers and students the opportunity to present their work to an international audience, share and exchange ideas, build network with other members of the community, and develop vital soft skills for a promising career.

In 2015, the SC celebrated its 11th edition of Student Council Symposium (SCS). Hosted in Dublin, Ireland, on July 10, 2015 the SCS highlighted 12 student talks and more than 85 student poster presentations on topics ranging from comparative genomics, bioinformatics tools to bioinformatics education. The delegates had the opportunity to hear encouraging and thought provoking keynotes from Prof. Des Higgins (University College Dublin, Ireland) and Prof. Ruth Nussinov (Tel Aviv University, Israel and National Cancer Institute, USA). Prof. Nussinov revealed that different mutations are differentially associated with different types of cancer. She believes that “structural biology, computations and experiment, are uniquely able to tackle” this question. Prof. Higgins began his keynote presentation with a history of multiple alignment algorithms. He then presented his newest alignment program, Clustal Omega, designed to align large numbers of sequences quickly and accurately.

The symposium also included two inspiring presentations focussed on open science from our sponsor organizations. The first, about publishing in the digital era, was given by Michael Markie, Associate Publisher at F1000Research, UK. The second, about data sharing, was given by Dr. Robert Davey, group leader with our institutional partner The Genome Analysis Center, UK.

With the help of our generous travel fellowship sponsors (Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, BioMed Central, and F1000) and independent peer reviewers, we awarded six travel fellowships. For the very first time, the ISCBSC awarded an Inspiring Youth travel fellowship to a high school student for presenting at SCS 2015. Based on the delegates’ votes, a judging committee awarded three speakers with best oral and two best poster presentation awards sponsored by Oxford University Press.

In addition to the one day SCS, the SC organized several activities during ISMB/ECCB 2015. For instance, the Career Central focused on practising one's elevator pitch to facilitate early-career researchers to interact with junior/senior PIs for job searching opportunities and career advice. We furthermore maintained a job board at our conference booth.

Written by Katie Wilkins (@kwilkins226) and Farzana Rahman (@propicee).