Bericht 2021 Olivia Schmid
This year, the International Summer Science Institute (ISSI) program took place virtually. It was therefore not possible to work in the laboratories of the Weizmann Institute. Nevertheless, we participants were able to work on exciting and captivating research projects. There were five groups, each working on a different cutting-edge research project together with a supervising mentor. My group worked on cellular heterogeneity in viral driven cancers supervised by Dr. Michael Mints. We not only got to learn a lot about the interesting mechanisms and pathways in cancers driven by viral infections but also about coding and extracting the most useful and interesting information from the data gathered from single-cell RNA sequencing. All of us did not have much experience with coding beforehand, which may be why we were even more excited and proud about having the first plots from our custom-made code.
Despite of the living in different time zones, we were working well together. My group consisted of six members living in the USA, Mexico, the UK, Germany and Switzerland. Therefore, we mostly worked in two teams: the North Americans and the Europeans. But still, there were many great moments when we worked together with all six members. Working with the other group members was a lot of fun, even though we were not in the same place. Sometimes I almost forgot that we were not in the same room.
Besides the projects, we had daily meetings on zoom with scientists talking about their fascinating research. It was amazing hearing from them how they got to the position they are in now and what they have experienced doing science.
An integral part, contributing to the feeling of being a community, was our Discord server. We spent a lot of time playing online games, talking in the voice channels and just chatting at any time of the day. One big advantage of an international virtual program is always having someone who is up and awake. Some fun activities on the server included, three truths and one lie, real-time mafia game, sending pictures from “outside the window” and asking questions about our countries in the “is it true that” chat. Towards the end of ISSI, it felt like we knew each other pretty well, even though we haven’t met in person.
Even now, several days after the ISSI program, we’re still in contact through our Discord server and write almost as much as we have during the program. It even doesn’t really feel like the program is over because we are all still connected and it will probably stay that way for some while :)