Jill O'Sullivan - MSc Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Having recently completed semester one, I know that I made the right choice in pursuing a masters degree in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in UCC. Choosing this course was a rather big decision for me as it was quite a change from my undergraduate degree in Financial Mathematics and Actuarial Science, which I also completed in UCC. Towards the end of my degree in FMAS, I knew a career in actuary was not for me, but I also realised that I had a real interest in maths and statistics but wanted to find other areas to which I could apply my knowledge.

After researching many postgraduate programmes, I decided to pursue this master’s degree. I’ve always had a keen interest in biology and chemistry, and this course seemed to be an interesting way of combining this with my existing knowledge. Being able to complete this course in UCC was also a big selling point for me as I really enjoyed my time here over the last four years. It did take some getting used to being around the same college but not knowing anyone anymore. It was like being back in first year all over again. Luckily, the course is quite small, with only ten people completing it this year, so I have been able to get to know everyone very well over the semester. Some of us have a background in maths while others have a background in biology and other sciences, so we’ve been able to help each other out with different aspects of the course.

I’m delighted to say the course has worked out for me so far. In semester one I was able to take modules in a variety of topics including biology, biochemistry, statistics and computer science.  Since I have not looked at a biology or chemistry book since secondary school it took a bit more effort to keep up in these modules. It was also a bit of shock going from classes of 40-50 people in the maths lectures to large lecture halls full of 100-200 students in biology lectures. I’ve never been in lectures with so many students from such a variety of courses. However, the lecturers were very helpful and were always available to answer my questions if I was struggling.

I’m looking forward to returning to UCC next semester to build on the knowledge I gained in semester one. I am also looking forward to finding out what research project I will be completing during the summer. So far, I am really enjoying this MSc and hopefully it may lead to a fascinating career in the future.

Graduation day

Jill O'Sullivan - MSc in Bioinformatics & Computational Biology 

Blog Post 2

Now that lectures have finished for the semester, study mode has officially commenced for semester 2. The exams for semester 2 will start in the next week or two and will no doubt bring a bit of stress with them. The one thing getting me through is that once they are finished, I will finally get to start work on my dissertation. The dissertation is a large part of my MSc in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, with a credit weighting of 30 which is one third of my overall degree.

I recently received the title of my project and I’m really looking forward to beginning work on it. There are two key aspects to the project that must be completed, the written report and an oral presentation, both of which are to be completed in October. The project I chose to take part in is with the Microbiology Department here in UCC. I recently met with my supervisor and following the meeting I knew I made the right choice. The project itself is very interesting and will look at aspects of genomics, metagenomics and biostatistics. The project really stood out to me as it seemed to combine the skills I acquired through my four years as an undergrad with what I have learned in the last few months. As part of the project, I will work with a team of Post Doc’s, PhD students and other masters students, so I’ll have a good support network during the summer. I’ll be working on the dissertation from June until October and this will involve lots of research, fortnightly meetings with my supervisors and other students, and much more. 

With only a few months left in my degree, I have begun to think a lot about what I’m going to do once I’m finished. I have always thought I would continue down the academic route and move onto a PhD once my masters was complete. Having seen a lot of my friends begin work in the last few months, I have become more open to the idea of working for a couple of years and then possibly going back to do a PhD. Currently, I’m keeping my options open and looking at all opportunities that are available to me. The skills I have obtained from my time in UCC will no doubt stand to me in whatever I decide to do and I’m so grateful to the college for that.

It’s hard to believe I’m nearly finished this masters. It seems like only yesterday when I started. When I began this masters, I was very worried about my choice. This course was very different to my undergrad course and I was afraid it wouldn’t work out. Thankfully it has and I look forward to what the future will bring once I’m finished. I can’t wait to find out all the things I can do with this degree.

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