The 2021 BioExcel Summer School included lectures and hands-on sessions on topics such as biomolecular docking and free energy calculations. In this blog, Julián Fernández and Victor H. Vargas Bermúdez talk about their experiences at the course.

Julián Fernández
Universidad de Buenos Aires 

The 2021 BioExcel Summer School on Biomolecular Simulations was a unique experience that greatly exceeded my expectations. During this week, I was able to learn an incredible amount of new methods and insights regarding computational biology, by listening to excellent lectures and tutorials by experts in the field. Something that is worth mentioning is that I was able to transfer all this new knowledge to my colleagues in the lab quite immediately, since all the lectures were recorded and the tutorials were available either online or were done using jupyter-notebooks, which are great for sharing and repeating procedures.

At first I thought that the fact that the school was being held virtually was going to negatively impact the interaction between the participants. However, the use of several tools such as the forum, the living document, Gather and some social activities made this aspect much better. The poster session was quite a success, with a lot of Q&A in the forum and the possibility to meet each other afterwards in Gather and discuss each other’s work. In addition, the posters were quite amazing, with great and very well presented scientific work in each one of them. This was possible because all the participants were very kind and friendly, always trying to help, share new ideas and give constructive feedback related to your work. Overall, I was able to meet very interesting new people and make some valuable connections during the course, and I hope that I will keep in touch with them in the future.

All in all, the amount of things I was able to learn and discuss during this week makes me believe that this Summer School will have a very positive impact on my career. I highly recommend it to any young researcher working in the field of biomolecular simulations.

Victor H. Vargas Bermúdez
Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology 

The BioExcel Summer School (BSS) 2021 took place virtually, and it was an extremely well-organized event. It comprised lectures and hands-on every day. The first and second days were centered on molecular docking and MD simulations with lectures by Alexandre Bonvin, Adam Hospital, and Alessandra Villa. The third day was focused on QM/MM simulations with lectures by Emiliano Ippoliti; this topic was exciting and new for me since you can obtain data from a different molecular point of view. Attilio V. Vargio was responsible for the topics of enhanced sampling methods on day fourth. Personally, my favorite day was the last day of the BSS with a knit and concise lecture by  Bert de Groot. Bert de Groot spoke on free energy calculations and specifically on applications of alchemical free energy calculations. Berk Hess taught the last lesson.

The attendees were convened from around the world. The experience of each one of them made the information richer. Thank you to all the coaches guiding us through the tutorials. Thank you Marta, Michelle, and Daniel, for your support since the beginning of my application and during the course. It was a great shot to be selected for the BSS 2021. I think it was one opportunity in a million. Despite the distance, it was definitively a complete, valuable, and full of knowledge week. I fully recommend applying for an opportunity to attend BSS.