In the Structural Bioinformatics lab at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Professor Baldo Oliva was working to predict how mutations affect protein interactions, which are key to many genetic diseases. As a research intern in Professor Oliva’s lab, Venkat helped by writing Python scripts to process their data using machine-learning techniques. The approaches he used, such as support vector machines (SVM) and random forests, were taught in the MIT course 6.036. After taking that class and then applying it to a real-world problem in his field, Venkat feels much more prepared to take on more machine-learning problems after graduation.
Coming from an Indian heritage, Venkat knew that living in Barcelona would bring its share of cultural challenges, such as the language and the vastly different cuisine. But on the whole, he found ways to adapt to the new culture. He was also lucky to have learned Spanish through classes in high school and at MIT, which was invaluable for everything from talking to the landlady to navigating the metro. Venkat was also glad to have a variety of amazing cultural experiences during his two-month stay, such as hiking around the beautiful mountainside monastery of Montserrat and attending a classical guitar concert in a 15th-century Gothic chapel.
Venkat is glad he decided to live in the middle of the city with people from completely different backgrounds, because it allowed him to be even closer to the amazing culture of the city. Venkat would thoroughly recommend a summer in Barcelona to anyone, because unlike many other cities, it is a city with a strong identity that also lets everyone be who they are. Thanks to MISTI-Spain, he is considering working in Spain for some time after graduation—he can’t wait to go back.