Note: this is the second interview in our new series “Life in the Lab”, which gives unedited accounts of students who have spent time with us. —Christophe
Please introduce yourself in a few sentences.
My name is Ferenc Galkó and I am a student from Hungary. I am 22 years old and will be graduating this December (2014) with a BSc in computer science from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. I am really interested in doing an MSc and later possibly PhD abroad.
Why did you choose to join the lab?
As a BSc student I did not have much opportunities to contribute to the intriguing work of research labs, nor had I the time to move away from my home country for a longer period. I thought that an internship abroad would help to fulfil both of my aspirations.
What project did you work on (and for how long)?
I have worked for about three months on the migration of various operations on sequences, including a vectorized version of the Smith-Waterman algorithm written in C. The existing, efficient code base had to be migrated by using NumPy and Cython to make the main functionalities available from Python.
What came out of it?
At the end of the internship we had a new Python package called Python Optimal Pairwise Alignment (PyOPA), which provides an opportunity to perform operations with the efficiency of a vectorized C code with the convenience of a Python code. It is also a plan to publish the package in the PyPi shop in the very near future.
Was there any highlight or low point you’d like to share?
I had started my internship just a day before the lab retreat in Switzerland. I think it was a great thing to start the internship like this, because I have met almost everyone in person from the lab. During the retreat there was a special session addressed for pre-PhD students, where we discussed the advantages and the costs of doing a PhD. It was really great to hear unbiased advice from those who already went through this process or currently doing it.
What is your overall impression and would you do it again?
I would definitely do it again, it was a great and unique experience altogether. I have met interesting people from many countries and gained insight into a well-known research lab, which will surely form my upcoming years of study in a positive way.