Google Summer of Code 2018:
This blog is the initiation of a series which describes my experiences while working with Open Bioinformatics Foundation as part of the Google Summer of Code 2018 program. The succeeding blog posts go into the details of my work of contributing to COBRApy, a package for constraint-based modeling of biological networks and driven, a package for data-driven constraint-based analysis.
I completed my B.Tech in Biotechnology (2014–2018) from Vellore Institute of Technology, India. Although, I was fascinated with how computers work, from the age of 2, I didn’t really start understanding them before my college years. I took a programming course in my college and thus began my journey as a programmer. I did code in my school as part of the curriculum but never found interest due to the way it was taught. So, there I was, a fresher who found that programming had a lot to teach as to how a person thinks and also discover its “magical powers” to solve problems which are bound by physical constraints.
Motivation for applying:
Although, I had known about GSoC, I never really thought of applying as I had the impression that it was mainly focused for people who are into Computer Science and closely related disciplines. But, I would admit that I was so wrong about that impression and thus this experience taught me an important life-lesson.
Since, I taught myself programming and also used it for some curriculum projects, I was looking out for some opportunity which would help me accelerate my endeavour in Computational Biology.
In November ’17, I started my Capstone Project at IIT Madras and I was working on synthetic lethality analysis. For my project, I was using COBRApy and I was truly amazed by the community they have. The people in the community are truly helpful and explained me a lot of stuff which I was finding hard to wrap my head around. Thus, I was inclined to contribute to the open-source community and specifically COBRApy.
Around the same time, I got to know that GSoC was calling for applications. I was randomly scrolling through the organisations and scavenging for some interesting ones. To my great surpise, COBRApy was there under Open Bioinformatics Foundation and thus began my preparation for applying.
Preparing my proposal:
I got so excited to apply that I literally spammed my mentor, Moritz, to discuss about what can be done. I put around 2–3 hrs daily to study the toolbox and what can be improved in it. After innumerable conversations with Moritz (who helped me a lot for preparing the proposal 🙏), the final draft was ready.
I was already done with my project and was waiting for the results of GSoC selection. Finally, the day arrived when the results were out and I hurriedly searched my name in the list. The moment I saw my name on the list, I was filled with joy and couldn’t hide my happiness. The following acceptance mail made me even more happy!
I am really grateful for the opportunity and would really encourage anyone having a similar area of interest to follow your heart and give GSoC a try, as it will not only help you learn a lot but also meet a lot of cool people (just like I did).