Computer Skills in the School of Life Sciences
I cannot believe that this time last year I had received offers for university places and that I was beginning to narrow down to my preferred choices. Time has flown by, and I can safely say that I am so pleased that I chose Warwick!! For this blog, I want to focus on the computer facilities and how learning to use IT software to analyse biological data is an integral part of our degree.
The Gibbet Hill campus boasts an impressive computer suite consisting of over 100 up-to-date , which truthfully had me taken aback on my visit to Warwick! Warwick’s computer facilities seemed far superior to those of any other universities I had visited. This room is open for personal use and for timetabled classes, such as the lab classes for the Genetics lab in year 1, and the seminars for the first-year module “Quantitative Skills for Biology”. Through these quantitative seminars, we learned how to manipulate and understand data by running statistical tests. For example, we learned how to run tests including Binomial Distribution and Chi square, and then reached conclusions for our hypotheses. In addition, we learned how to model infectious diseases, and how to work out dosages of drugs by analysing pharmacokinetic drug data, both of which I found particularly interesting. Overall, my knowledge in Excel was enhanced and I became proficient in using the SPSS Statistics software. On a side note, this module was assessed throughout term 2 and 3, and I found it reassuring having completed a module before exams had started which relieved some of the exam stress.
The department offers so much in using technology, which has been very useful to someone like me who was technologically challenged! During the Quantitative Skills for Biology seminars, there were PhD students who would help you and explain concepts to you if you were unsure. There is QuBic – the Quantitative Biology Centre, which runs drop in sessions to provide help on assignments, to answer questions or to help you in understanding how to use software. In first year, I attended mathematics refresher workshops which were helpful and reassuring because I did not do Maths at A Level. We covered topics such as rearranging equations, and we would all have a go at the questions and the lecturer would go through any difficult ones on the board. There is also Science 101 which runs helpful skill sessions each week, from how to write a lab report, to essay skills and deconstructing a research paper. In fact, next week there is a session on using PowerPoint to generate images and diagrams, and I attended this last year and found it really helpful when I came to make my graphs for my lab report.
Well, I hope I have given you a sense of how Warwick provides us with those ever-important IT skills and how much reassurance and support they provide in this area. Until next time!