Biotechnologist Preps for Grad School with Specializations on Coursera

Mrinal is a biotechnologist pursuing his Master of Science in Systems Biology and Bioinformatics in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

If I could describe the Systems Biology and Biotechnology Specialization in one sentence, it would be: “This course changed my life.”

What I Learned

I took a lot of courses on Coursera over the years, but one that stood out was the Systems Biology and Biotechnology Specialization. Integrative science is the future, and these interdisciplinary courses helped me realize the true purpose of science: the different branches of science are made to work together and our understanding of the world is stronger when we tackle problems from a holistic perspective.

It also helped me a lot in writing my bachelor’s thesis, which was on NGS data analysis and database formation. By the time I finished the literature review module (course 5 of the Systems Biology and Biotechnology Specialization), I had a better idea of how to complete my thesis.

This Specialization consists of 5 courses and a final capstone project. Some things we covered include experimental methods in systems biology, data sourcing, different types of analyses, and dynamic modeling techniques. If you’re looking to learn a lot, this Specialization is perfect for you.

Onwards to Graduate School

I was able to get into one of the best research universities in the world to study the subject I’m most passionate about.

When I was applying for graduate school, the knowledge I gained from the Bioinformatics Specialization and Systems Biology and Biotechnology Specialization on Coursera helped a great deal. I aced my school interviews and had plenty to add to my statement of purpose.

Today, I’m completing my Master of Science in Systems Biology and Bioinformatics at ITMO University in Saint Petersburg, one of Russia’s national research universities. We’re learning about sequencing analyses, formation of compendiums for diseases, and pipelines for pathway analyses. None of this could have been possible without the amazing content offered by universities on Coursera.

Some advice and learnings

My advice for students who come from mathematics, programming, or biology is this: you’ll be hit by a steep learning curve in the beginning, but don’t let that discourage you. For me at least, very little made sense at the start because on one hand you’re studying the basics of programming and on the other you’re absorbing enough biology vocabulary to scare off the typical layman. But then you’ll begin to see the convergence of this crucial knowledge and skills – the way you can combine knowledge from two fields and perspectives to solve complex problems – and suddenly it’s like magic.

To experience this sense of unity is awe-inspiring, so don’t stop until you hit that “Aha!” moment yourself.

 

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