Hear from our 2017 Spring School travel grant beneficiaries

For each of our BioExcel training events we make a limited number of travel bursaries available. We ask the beneficiaries of the BioExcel travel grant to write a blog post for us, either about their experiences at the course, their research interests (in layman’s terms) or a relevant scientific topic.

The following blog posts were submitted by some of our travel-grant beneficiaries from the 2017 Spring school held in Sweden.



Laura Llorach Llorach-Parés

Computational chemist PhD student

What do you want to do when you grow up? What a difficult question to be answered by a child, or even by an adult, do you not think? Most people never find their own answer to that question during all their lives.

I remember when I was young that some of my friends were very convinced that they wanted to work as teachers and they currently do, there were others that wanted to work as lawyers or firefighters and some of them do, others do not.

Life is full of decisions, and focused on the study and career field, the decisions become harder when you are not able to answer the key question “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

When I was thinking about what I have to write for this post, my first thought was to explain the wonderful experience that we got on the BioExcel-PRACE Spring School “HPC for Life Sciences” that took place at the amazing city of Stockholm. Later on, I thought that it could be more interesting if I explain how I became interested in life science and the impact that this course could have on my career.

When I was young and not that young, I was not able to answer what I want to do when I grow up. When the moment to take a scholar decision arrived for me, my choice was the health field, despite the fact that I was not 100% (even less) sure of that. Now, the decision I made brought me to that point of life, where I work as computational chemist and apply that knowledge to drug discovery. Also, I am confident enough to say that now I can answer the question “What do you want to do when you grow up?”. I want to work on something that could improve people’s health. For this reason, I joined the BioExcel-PRACE Spring School where I got the opportunity to learn from the four best developers about the most used molecular modelling and simulations codes.

My intention when I wrote this blog was to explain a little bit my experience and to thank the organization to give us the opportunity to learn about this field.



Vladyslav Kravchuk

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

I am a first year Master`s student from the Ukraine. The last two years of my life I dedicated to computational structural biology studying of proteins. GROMACS and VMD were essential for my research since those packages are key in performing and analysis of biomolecular simulations. Moreover, I used computational cluster for high performance computing of molecular dynamics simulation of my 320k atoms system.

I was incredibly glad to have found the Spring School which would bring together the main developers of the most advanced software in my field of studying.

There were four outstanding and saturated days of lectures, hands-on tutorials and networking! Each lecture expanded my imagination about modern computational biology and high performance computing. In my opinion the lectures were the best part of the school since I had learnt a lot of things directly from the developers, who presented and discussed issues that are not present in the internet. Each lecture was unique and in the same time consistent with previous one. The developers told not only about the peculiarities of their software but also discussed main challenges and perspectives of the entire field. Magnificent “fika” (coffee breaks) always refreshed my energy during those days and made the event more productive. Extensive hands-on tutorials were constructed for testing in the Beskow and Tegner supercomputers of the PDC center. This was my first experience of work on such powerful machines. The event gave me opportunity to get acquainted and communicate either with developers or other participants which was very useful.

Now I returned home with a bunch of new knowledge, impressions and great motivation. Without a doubt it will improve my productivity and quality of results. I have also been spreading the knowledge I gained to my colleagues in Ukraine.

Thus, I am very grateful to the organizers, professors and BioExcel in particular for making this awesome event and giving me the opportunity to attend it!



Ewelina Rutkowska

Medical University of Lublin

BioExcel/PRACE Spring School 2017, Sweden – HPC for Life Sciences

BioExcel/PRACE Spring School I had a privilege to attend was a very fruitful meeting. During four days we looked into four software packages widely applied in the field of molecular modelling, namely GROMACS, AMBER, NAMD and VMD. Each day began with a morning lecture conducted by the main developer of a given program with whom we could meet in the afternoon, during hands-on sessions. Hands-on sessions were devoted to our own work on a variety of tasks. Particularly interesting was visit to the KTH Royal Institute of Technology campus (Figure 1), where the workshop was held. The meeting was a great opportunity for novice and experienced users to learn from the very authors of the software. For me it was very productively spent time and the knowledge I gained will definitely be used in my scientific work.




Figure 1. KTH Royal Institute of Technology campus.

The Spring School was a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with high level experts, discuss problems appearing in our projects and develop our knowledge further. Moreover, the workshop was a perfect place to meet peers dealing with similar problems in scientific projects. Apart from the purely scientific reasons for attending the training offered, I found networking with other participants as the foremost mission and necessity. I have met interesting, excellent people that were, as well, experienced colleagues of my field. The course has fulfilled all my expectations.





Figure 2. Stockholm in the very beginning of the spring.

The Spring School was also enjoyable because of its location. It was the perfect opportunity to visit Stockholm at the very beginning of spring (Figure 2). The workshop offer was complemented by a visit to the Vasa Museum, which made great impression on all participants.



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