Interdisciplinary Project

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Hands-on experience in bioinformatics and genomics data processing using real-world data and addressing real world scientific questions is essential for any future computational biologist. Likewise, a computational biologist needs to be able to interface between two rather different disciplines: computer science and (molecular) biology. For this reason, it is important that a computational biologist is capable to communicate applied methodologies and research findings in a clear and concise manner to audiences of diverse backgrounds, both in oral and written form. Indeed, apart from being able to present the own work in a clear manner, it is also important to correctly describe it (e.g., in form of research articles, technical reports, dissertations, oral presentations at conferences, etc.).
Therefore, one objective of the course is to accompany the students during their practical experience with a scientific project in an interdisciplinary environment and provide a platform to practice the verbal and written communication skills required for scientific work. The students shall be supported in learning to effectively communicate methodological details of their work and obtained (intermediate) results, as well as discuss about further improvements and ideas. Both oral presentations and short written summaries of their work will help the students to prepare for writing and orally defending their Master's theses in the best way, which can improve their final grade.
Ideally, this course is thought to accompany the scientific project that the participants are executing (or will be executing) for their Master's theses, so that (apart from the preparation of a few oral presentations and short written summaries, thought and organized to be then reusable for the Master's thesis and its presentation) no additional practical work is required. Feedback provided on oral presentations and written communications will help the student to improve the final quality of his/her Master's thesis and of its defense. [Note: for its characteristics and aims, this course can be well associated with the extension of the Master's thesis; in this case it provides only the assessment of the corresponding 6 CFU, without requiring any request to, and approval by, the Study Plan Committee.]
For participants who instead wish to work on a project other than their thesis work, small alternative projects (possibly as group work) will be available (or can be developed jointly) during the course.
Expected learning outcomes
The objective of the course is to provide the scientific communication skills necessary for scientific work in an interdisciplinary environment, including both the verbal and the written communication of methodological details and obtained results of research projects, as well as the scientific discussion of possible research improvements.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
For the practical work (i.e., the specific project to be worked on) the course provides two options:
1. The student can opt for accompanying the Master's thesis with this course. In this case, the project work is defined by the thesis project.
2. Alternatively, this course can be selected as a self-contained course, independent of the Master's thesis. In this case, independent projects are proposed and mentored by the lecturer of the course or other scientific staff. Participants are also welcome to propose their own suitable projects (which in this case should be different from the topic of their Master's thesis).
There will be an initial meeting to discuss and choose the different projects (thesis or independent project). Progress of projects will be accompanied through teaching and discussion in group meetings (which can be freely arranged during any semester, based on the project progress), with short presentations on the current state and development of the project and open questions. Participants are encouraged to give feedback to the individual presentations (e.g., about style, clarity) and the project work (e.g., suggestions for improvement of alternative approaches).
The course will be concluded by full presentations of the projects and the obtained results, and the submission of the respective project report or short paper, ideally before completing the writing of the Master's thesis, such that participants can fully benefit for their theses from the feedbacks they get from this course.
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of programming and data processing, as well as knowledge in molecular biology, as provided by the compulsory courses of the Master's Degree.
Teaching methods
Sessions with an introduction on report writing and oral presentations (structure, style, citations, etc.). Seminars with project presentations by students followed by a scientific discussion and feedback session. A concluding "project conference" with full presentations.
Teaching Resources
As the individual projects require (or help to develop) widely differing biological knowledge and computational approaches, there is no "one fits all" reference material for this course. For the benefit of all participants, slides presented by the students during the course will be collected on the "Be e-Poli" (BeeP, the portal for the network activities of students and professors at the Politecnico di Milano, accessible from the Politecnico di Milano Web site; students registered to the course for the current academic year can access it.
Lists of project-specific reference material will likely be provided by the mentors of the individual projects.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The assessment is based on the final presentation (correctness, clarity, etc.) and the project report (correctness, clarity, etc.).
BIO/11 - MOLECULAR BIOLOGY - University credits: 0
Lectures: 48 hours
Professor: Piro Rosario Michael