Student Spotlight: Virginia Breese
Meet Virginia Breese '23!
Scientist II, Foundation Medicine
MS in Bioinformatics
In her spare time, Virginia likes being outdoors – hiking, camping, and even walking from the train in the morning. She’s working on completing New Hampshire’s forty-eight 4,000 footers and is planning a Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim backpacking trip this winter. She also enjoys crafting and any excuse for a DIY project.
Get to know Virginia!
Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?
I was initially drawn to the bioinformatics program curriculum. The course offerings were very applicable to my specific industry goals. After completing a couple of courses before officially enrolling in the program, I also found that the course format was an ideal balance between independent, collaborative and guided learning.
What inspired you to choose your field of study?
As a wet-lab scientist developing Next Generation Sequencing-based molecular oncology assays, I’ve worked very closely with and learned a lot from my computational biologist and bioinformatician colleagues. These collaborations inspired me to learn more on the data analysis side of my industry.
How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far?
The program has been challenging but extremely rewarding. I’ve gained invaluable data analysis skills but have also enjoyed the shared progression along-side my fellow students.
What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis?
As I transition into the electives stage of the program, I’m looking forward to exploring the various ways in which my newly acquired bioinformatics foundation can be applied.
What are your plans for after graduation?
While I think I’ll always enjoy a role in wet-lab experimental design and some time at the bench, I hope to transition a bit more into the computational space, possibly bridging the gap between lab and analytical groups.
What advice would you give to incoming students?
I found that time management is key in completing this coursework, particularly if you’re balancing a full-time career while pursuing your degree. Also, try to embrace the discussion forums with your peers, even though it can be time consuming. Genuinely attempt to process the week’s information as a group. Some weeks you might see something a bit clearer than one of your classmates and some weeks you might need help digesting the material. This dynamic really helps everyone get the most out of the courses and also builds connections despite being fully online.
What has been your favorite class to-date?
This is hard. I value each course I’ve taken so far, each for a different reason. One favorite would be “Molecular Biology, Genetics and Disease” with Drs Ehrenkaufer and Ng. I appreciate the breadth of material that was touched upon in the course, including foundational molecular biology, a bit of coding, and even presentation skills. It was the most engaging fully online course I’ve experienced so far. I also have to mention RBIF111. Despite being the most difficult so far, I’m impressed with how much I learned in that 10-week period.