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Students Use Their Computer Skills to Help Advance Biology

This summer, Alexander Pico is leading a team of mentors who will help university students apply their skills as open source developers.

This summer, university students will learn to work as developers at the intersection of biology and computer science. Thanks to the Google Summer of Code program, students from all over the world have an opportunity to gain programming experience with open source organizations.

For the 11th year, the National Resource for Network Biology (NRNB), led by Alexander Pico at the Gladstone Institutes, was selected as one of the program’s mentor organizations. Since 2007, the NRNB has mentored 98 students and helped them complete over 120 projects.

“We’re proud to host another 11 students this year thanks to this amazing program,” said Pico, PhD, executive director of the NRNB and associate director of bioinformatics at Gladstone. “It’s an honor to mentor these bright young people and inspire them to apply their developer skills to open source platforms that can benefit everyone.”

The NRNB develops freely available, open source software technologies that enable researchers to analyze biological networks and better understand how they fail in disease. Students selected to work with the NRNB this summer will work on projects related to Gladstone, Cytoscape, and WikiPathways.

After learning about the NRNB during a period of “community bonding,” the students started coding at the beginning of May and will continue through the summer. They will submit their code for final evaluations in August.

Since the start of the Summer of Code program in 2005, over 13,000 students have worked with 12,000 mentors from over 125 countries. This year alone, Google funded 1,260 students who will write code for 212 mentor organizations.