1. How did you get involved with the iSCB/SC and what was your role in it?
As an intern at Phil Bourne's group (summer 2003), the former ISCB President, I proposed the idea of developing a section of ISCB run by and for students. I was a hungry PhD student who wanted to contribute to the Society. At the time there was no mechanism for students to be engaged. After writing a proposal for a Student Council, a call was made in early 2004 to establish a committee of students to form it. It was formally launched at ISMB Glasgow in the summer of 2004. I became the chair and 20 other students and postdocs took many roles. I owe to these cohort of committed colleagues the success of my initial vision.
2. Was it difficult to find the right balance between student council and your research?
Very much. But it was worth it. Research skills evolve with time but the Student Council provides you with very valuable contacts and experience that in my case have had a tremendous positive impact in my career. Also meeting like-minded students from all over the world was a great source of motivation that put into perspective the many hurdles a PhD student must resolve.
3. Does it make sense for early-career researchers to be involved with the iSCB/SC? To organize and attend meetings such as the ESCS?
Of course this depends on your personal character. Some people like to be alone working on their stuff. Others like to get to know the people influencing the field and being known for contributing to it as well. Being a Student Council leader requires lots of time and dedication but to me it was one of my wisest investments for the future. You get to do things the academic environment would never allow such as organising meetings like the ESCS.
4. Do you have one tip for young researchers and students in Bioinformatics/Computational Biology?
I won't be original here. Be persistent, believe in your ideas and give it your all because you have a tremendous chance to change the world.
Manuel is currently the Chief Scientific Officer of Cambridge Precision Medicine. You can contact him on Twitter or LinkedIn. The interview was conducted and (lightly) edited by Nikos Papadopoulos. Tweet at him and let him know what you think about this!