My interest in Computer Science hatched during a Computational Biology seminar that I attended during my years at Harvard Medical School. The presenter, Dr. Manolis Kelis (Principal Investigator at MIT CSAIL) offered an insight into Machine Learning Algorithms that can be used in gene manipulation databases. This was interesting because he used a statistical model, comprised of a large genomic dataset, that incorporated genetic expression data to predict regulatory effects of genes with a higher accuracy than lab produced genomic annotations.
I spent my days researching new genomics algorithms and subsequently our laboratory published a manuscript (Zika Virus Persistence in the Central Nervous System and Lymph Nodes of Rhesus Monkeys, Cell 2017) to identify correlating genes of underlying viral mechanisms using a linear regression model in R programming language. This opened new doors for me to explore other programming languages such as Python and C#. My experience hanging out in the local non-profit programming meetup contributed strongly to my desire to pursue a career in programming. Aside from different computer science projects other members were working on, we held discussions about the open, welcoming culture in tech for beginners and topics such as computer architecture and current trends in Artificial Intelligence. Regularly meeting this network of beginners I was able to review their codes as well as simultaneously work on my projects as a group and helped me to fill in and exchange knowledge of our new path. Not having a computer science background, NEU’s coursework will allow me to have a better grasp of material such as principles of software engineering and basic design of computer operating systems to be successful in the field of Software Engineering. Specifically, foundational bridge courses such as discrete & data structures and computer systems are vital for organizing data and understanding the functional operations that can be applied to data. While many things interest me, specializing in machine learning through courses like foundations of artificial intelligence will help me to excel in the creation of programs that solve real-world applications.
As I have enjoyed coding, I wish I was introduced to computer science sooner. Align program will help me to fill in the gaps of knowledge in computer science. In the long term, I want to hold a data scientist position at a company. While I have had some success with translational medicine, the experience has encouraged my desire to push further my intellectual abilities. Graduate study at NEU will give me the opportunity to take a more exciting streamlined path. Engaging in the coop program will allow me to make a smooth school to work transition through experiential learning and structured service learning in software engineering. In future, I hope to engage other diverse groups of young self-taught programmers with the goal of stimulating interest in the Align program through special workshops for tech resume building and algorithm skills for tech careers. This will not only enrich my skill set but also help other aspiring programmers to transition into computer science regardless of their background.