Julie credits her stint at the European Innovation Academy’s entrepreneurship and innovation summer program in 2019 with sparking her interest in bioinformatics and helping realign her academic trajectory with her personal interest in the medical sciences. In less than a year, she would graduate with a master’s degree in Business and Information Systems Engineering, which provided her with valuable exposure to important business, engineering, and computational concepts but left her curiosity for the natural sciences unsated.
This prompted Julie to enroll for her second MS degree, this time in bioinformatics and systems biology. And this decision to switch career paths, she says, tracks directly to the launch of her professional career, in December 2022, as a data scientist at BioStrand working with advanced NLP technologies and NGS pipelines for B-cell repertoire sequencing.
Julie has expanded her knowledge on nutrition and the microbiome field by enrolling in some certification courses and online academic programs. At BioStrand, she has expanded her master’s thesis on the microbiota-gut-brain axis into a very well-received two-part blog on microbiomes and their impact on immunotherapy efficacy.
As someone who, by her own admission, can not sit still, Julie likes to keep busy with an exciting medley of events and activities. Over the years, she has volunteered to build a community center in Zambia and a classroom in Indonesia, taught statistics, co-organized a two-day convention on fair and sustainable fashion, participated in several piano competitions, and won the classical music competition Jonge Solisten Aan Zee.
This is Julie
Why did you choose BioStrand?
During my bioinformatics master’s, I was looking for some advanced scientific courses to replace a few courses that were exempted. This is when I became really interested in cancer biology and immunology and my interest only increased further while writing my thesis project on the gut-brain axis. Ever since I have wanted to explore immunology more closely. At BioStrand, I look forward to delving deeper into this field and to extending my data science skills in computational biology. I am excited to be part of a very outstanding and bright team that is committed to exploring multiple areas of immunology and pushing the boundaries of research.
I am also motivated by the fact that the work at BioStrand has a direct impact on improving people’s lives. So, being here aligns with my passion for exploring the intersection of data and biology while making a meaningful difference.
What have you experienced during your first months as a data scientist here?
Well, in the beginning, it was a lot of information to take in. This is still the case, but it makes the work even more interesting. I have enjoyed the challenge of learning new concepts and techniques, and am really enthused by the immunology discussions. I needed to make a dictionary to keep up with some meetings, but I have appreciated all of it. The team at BioStrand has been very welcoming, open, and supportive, and their passion for what they are working on makes it a pleasure to be a part of the team.
I have been mainly working on the NLP product, with a focus on how it will relate to a specific client project. This has been really fulfilling, as we were striving to meet the client’s expectations with high quality. Other than that, I also got to work on the NGS pipeline, which is still a work in progress but has been a great learning experience. This gave me a deeper understanding of the complex wet-lab processes involved in NGS, as well as the challenges associated with working with large datasets. This project is quite broad and offers many possibilities for exploration, which I find really fascinating. The NGS pipeline offers a wealth of data that can be analyzed in various ways, and I believe that there is significant potential for new insights and discoveries to emerge from this work. So yes, it has been a very exciting few months and I am sure more exciting times lie ahead.
If you could describe the culture at BioStrand in 3 words, what would they be and why?
Open-minded: Everyone’s ideas and contributions are appreciated. As an employee you feel encouraged to share your thoughts and opinions openly and freely, which is really important to foster creativity.
Collaborative: Really “teamwork makes the dream work” as they say☺. There is a strong emphasis on teamwork, while still recognizing the importance of working independently where appropriate.
Vision-driven: BioStrand has a great sense of purpose and direction. The overarching goals are kept in mind, being focused on the bigger picture. This makes it possible to work both efficiently and effectively.
What have you enjoyed most so far about working here?
The fact that the team is so diverse, coming from multiple fields including physics, biotechnology, and data engineering, allows us to approach problems from a variety of angles. This leads to some very interesting and innovative solutions and some truly extraordinary knowledge transfer.
For you, what’s the most difficult challenge for data projects/ bioinformatics right now?
Working on data projects demands a balance and integration of multiple requirements and considerations at the same time. This covers a whole range of factors, from wet-lab constraints, coding constraints, choice of technologies and tools, data security and privacy, to strategic decisions and effective communication. I feel that this is challenging, but it should become less as I gain a deeper understanding of each of these components and how they influence each other.
In your new role, what are you most anticipating in the future?
Well, I am excited to see what new scientific breakthroughs we will be able to achieve and which cutting-edge technologies we will apply to handle increasingly complex and challenging projects.
Finally, tell us about what you do when you're not working on data projects.
A lot! I’m never sitting still when not working behind the laptop. I really enjoy running with some good techno or hip-hop music. I love cooking, especially plant-based meals. I play the piano from time to time and I love to go out with friends. At the moment, I’m also refurbishing some second-hand chairs.