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Hi, everyone! I am new here and hoping y'all could provide some guidance. I will be graduating this December with a B.S. in Mathematics and a minor in statistics. Deciding what I want to do with my life has taken a looooong time, but I finally figured out my passions/interests: computational biology. As of right now, I am planning on attending graduate school in the Fall of 2021, provided I actually get accepted anywhere. Because my interest in the field did not come about until within the last year, so I have very little background in biology (as in...I'm taking an intro bio course this fall because the last time I took bio was in 2012 as a freshman in high school). I do know, however, that I am extremely interested in the field of virology and infectious disease research. All that being said, I have two questions: 

1. Is computational virology even a thing? Like building computational models of viruses to better understand them and help figure out vaccine development/treatment strategies?

2. If so, do you guys have any suggestions of PhD programs which have a strength in this area? 

Thanks in advance, guys :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, welcome! 

1. Is computational virology even a thing? Like building computational models of viruses to better understand them and help figure out vaccine development/treatment strategies?

Sure. You can apply computational methods to basically any sub-field in biology. For example, see: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042682217300053

 

2. If so, do you guys have any suggestions of PhD programs which have a strength in this area? 

I'm not sure. You may benefit from reading the literature some (just search things in Google Scholar!). When you find papers that you're interested in, take a look at the authors' affiliated institutions.

There are virology program (e.g. Harvard's), computational/genome biology programs (e.g. UWs), computer science/bioinformatics programs (e.g. Carnegie Mellon's), and applied math (e.g. UC Irvine´s) that could all be of interest. Focus on labs first though, and let the labs guide you to the programs. For example, you might find the Sabeti Lab's research interesting: https://www.sabetilab.org/

Also definitely consider applied mathematics or statistics PhD programs. Having only taken intro biology one year before graduate school is going to be a big disadvantage in applying to biology graduate school. You may still be able to make fantastic contributions to computational biology, but programs will likely be worried that (1) you won't be able to pass graduate-level biology courses, and (2) that you don't understand enough biology to know what you're getting yourself into. On the other hand, you probably already meet the requirements for applied math and stats PhDs (many of which have PIs who work on biological problems). 

Also consider taking a few years off to gain more biology research experience to make sure this is a field that you'd enjoy working in for 4-7+ years. 

Good luck! :)

Edited by VirtualCell
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