More genomics classes or calc 2 + linear algebra for going on to bioinformatics PhD program?

8 Nov

A student asked me a question and I decided to ask twitter.

These were the other answers I got

@DuffyLab : can we pick genomics class + linear algebra?

@cwkchiang : probability theories and stochastic processes. I wish I took those rather than genomics and calc and linear algebra.

@mturchin20 : I’d say the latter, but it also depends on what they find easier to study outside the class (which for many seems to be bio)

‏@GeePawHill :  genomics.

oz has spoken.

(actually, it’s just cuz genomics is way more fun.)

@kwbroman : calc 2 and lin alg. ultimately they’re going to want all of it.

‏@3rdreviewer : intro to algorithms.

‏@timbeissinger : calc2 + algebra and research in a genomics lab

@vsbuffalo : I’d say calc and probability theory and statistics.

‏@timbeissinger :@vsbuffalo Probability…Good call! Similarly, combinatorics class I took during undergrad has proven one of my most useful.

@Graham_Coop : @vsbuffalo prob. theory class using calculus, & linear algebra.Getting as much practical math/stats as poss. is best.

@TimWilliate : linear algebra + numerical methods combined with a strong undergrad research assignment

@dylanbstorey : linear algebra, calc, statistics etc will be infinitely more useful in the long run. Will require significant time invest

My advice

I think @mturchin20 has a good point that it depends on what the student finds easier to learn. If you pick up genomics more easily than math, taking math classes is probably a good idea. Math classes also look good on your CV (as long as your grades are reasonable). If I were to choose a grad student, I’d love to see quite a bit of math on their transcript, and if they have a biology degree, I’d assume they pick up the biology they need on the way.

If you have to choose between different math classes, probability theory and stochastic processes seem very useful to me, like @vsbuffalo and @cwkchiang suggested (though I am not sure whether this is only true for people who do theoretical pop genetics) . Linear algebra would be useful too, but so would many math, stats or CS classes.

A genomics summer project would be at least as good as a genomics class.

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