|As my formation in bioengineering has a strong interdisciplinary character, during my master degree, I felt the need of taking a more specific direction and, at the same time, doing a remarkable experience to make my profile unique and different from all my classmates. With this objective clear in my mind, as soon as an opportunity presented, I seized it. I got in touch with one professor of Computer Science in my department, who used to teach one semester at University of Padova and the other one at Georgia Institute of Technology, U.S.A., and offered me the chance to follow him as a visiting student.
Once there, it was the fall semester 2011, I took two classes as an auditor. The first one was "Pattern matching", held by professor Alberto Apostolico. We studied algorithms for string search and compression, the theory behind automata and formal languages and other aspects relevant to pattern matching in big size data with low computational cost.
The second one was "Algorithms for bioinformatics and computational biology", held by professor Mark Borodovsky. This course was devoted to the study of mathematical models and computer algorithms used in DNA and protein sequence analysis, such as sequence alignments and phylogenetic trees. We also implemented simplified versions of the algorithms studied in the course as computer programs using Matlab and Perl.
This experience enriched me from many points of view. First of all, it was my first insight in bioinformatics. I discovered there what it is about, the main branches of it and, last but not least, my interest for the subject. More specifically, I got interested in the way methods of computer science are applied to human health.
I also met a lot of people. The most important encounter was probably professor Borodosky, who gave me useful pieces of advice and with whom I discovered the American approach to didactics. Besides him, I made friends with other international students. Compared to my Italian friends, they are people with very different experiences and ambitions and, sharing life with them helped me open my mind.
Spending four months in the United States in a highly qualified academic environment, eventually helped my fluency in English, both scientific and common. But I also had the chance to travel a lot and be enriched from a cultural point of view.
When I came back to Italy, I still had to finish my master degree. As I had a renewed awareness about my ambitions for the future, I decided to do my master thesis in bioinformatics and to leave Italy right after.
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Last update: Friday, November 1, 2013