How to approach programming as a student of Life Sciences?

In the modern scientific world, there is no line of distinction between life sciences and technology. Fortunately, the courses available at the school of Life Sciences allow us to explore and use technology through a much useful tool- programming.

It cannot always be easy to suddenly turn towards programming while dealing with biochemistry, but once you are equipped with the right approach and practice, it will allow you to be productive and work through loads of data without following a specific manual procedure. If you are new to programming, it is vital to understand that your understanding of the language will improve with consistent practice.

During my first semester, I have taken “Introductory programming for Life Sciences” -BS21010. It is an exciting module that lets you explore Python and, eventually, BioPython. Here are a few techniques and resources that helped me:

  1. The primary thing that helped me through this module was reading and exploring the resources available online. I personally used “ ‘’’ this website to explore the basic structure and functions in Python. Additionally, I also recommend reading Principle and Techniques of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Chapter 18. It gives a good insight into Python’s basics that can help you write a good and clean programme.
  2. Apart from reading the resources, it is also essential to participate in hands-on sessions to acclimatize with the language’s syntax. Furthermore, such sessions will train you to experiment with the language, which will be much more useful in the future.
  3. When it comes to writing a programme under a given circumstance, it is crucial to understand the logical steps that need to be followed to obtain the output. To do so, I made flowcharts that highlighted the logical steps that I needed to define, accompanied by the different functions and operations that needed to be executed to obtain the output. Here is an example of one such flowchart:

Finally, when you get exhausted/ stressed out, stop, and take a break! It is the only way to gain a new perspective on your programme and its aspects.

As for upcoming biologists, we must embrace technology’s different aspects to facilitate our research and present it in a user-friendly manner through productive tools.

Written by:

Hey! I am AditeeA, a third-year student of Molecular Genetics. I am from India. I love travelling, photography and reading. On my blog, I share many aspects of student life and discuss different things you can do in and around Dundee. I hope you find this fun and helpful!

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