Record high participation in Simula's Summer School
Lecture at SSCP (Photo_ Simula/Bård Gudim)

Record high participation in Simula's Summer School


“I have high expectations”, says PhD-student Bérénice Charrez (25) from Switzerland. Anders Nelson (23) from the USA says he loves the international experience Summer School gives him.

By: Christine Gulbrandsen

“Science without computer science is almost unthinkable. So by connecting students from different academic backgrounds and from different parts of the world through Summer School, we aim to create groundbreaking research. We believe this kind of collaboration carries a high potential for achieving excellence in research and education”, says Aslak Tveito, Managing Director of Simula.When the fifth annual Summer School opened on Monday, 26 students from 12 different countries were eager to get started.17 of them are PhD-students, six are working on their MSc, and three are post-doctors.“We have never had that many participants before, so that is exciting”, he continues.

Simula's Rachel Thomas, who help organize Summer School, explains that they received about 50 applications from all over the world. The previous years they have accepted about 15-18 participants, this year, however, they were able to increase the number.“We received some extra funding, and therefore we were able to enroll 26 students to the full program”, she says.In addition, the first weeks of school, two different groups of students, one from the AFibTrainNetcoordinated by the University of Copenhagen, and another from the PIC-project in London, will be sitting in on the intensive first part of the training. Then they will return to their studies.

In-depth projects on challenges in cardiac research

After two weeks, the remaining 26 Summer School students have finished their schooling in Oslo, and then they will use the summer to collaborate on in-depth projects focused on current challenges in cardiac research.“The groups will consist of students with various backgrounds, for example, we assign a mathematician, a biologist and a computer scientist in one group, hoping this will provide them with useful insight in other fields of expertise”, Tveito describes.In August Summer School will conclude on the University of California San Diego (UCSD) campus, where the participants will present their results for top researchers in the field. Tveito believes that the students enrolled in the program, will benefit from the experience, both on short term, and in the future.

“The students have an excellent opportunity to form networks they can profit from in future work. Also, interacting with researchers with different competence, will hopefully help them see the importance of good communication”.Tveito cherishes the research collaboration between Simula, the University of Oslo and UCSD.“As one of the world’s leading universities in the fields of medicine and bioengineering, UCSD is a perfect match for us, they help us get better at what we do. I really believe that the partnership is decreasing the distance between us and other excellent scientific organizations. Our Summer School students will hopefully also benefit from this”, he says.

Four students on their expectations

Bérénice Charrez (25) from Switzerland

”My background is in bioengineering. I am currently performing my PhD at University of California Berkely, where I focus on developing heart on a chip technology”, says Bérénice Charrez.The 25 yearold, who is a native of Switzerland, explains that her work basically consists of testing drugs on microsized human heart tissue. The goal is to improve the way the drugs are screened before they go on the market.

“I have high expectations of what I will get out of the summer program. I am eager to learn more about the computational aspects of research. I have studied coding before, but it has been three years, so I need to refresh it. But I am happy to get back to it - and I reckon it is directly applicable to my PhD-work. It will hopefully help me do even better research when I return home.”

Anders Nelson (23) from USA

“This is the first time I am on a learning program outside of the University of Virginia, so I am really excited about this international opportunity. I love that I am one of few Americans participating, because that gives me a good exposure to how people outside of the US look at sciences and research”, reveals Anders Nelson (23).The American is currently enrolled in a PhD-program in pharmacology, and his lab work consists of figuring out how hearts recover after heart attacks. Also, he looks at therapy approaches to making the processes better.

“I am hoping to learn more about how to model physical and electrical models for the heart. So when I get back to my research, I would like to be able to develop a model which looks at how different genetic states after heart attacks induce physical changes in hearts”.

Kalai Muthukumarasamy (29) from India

“My background is in biology, but I want to learn more about computer simulations of the heart. That's the main reason why I am here”, says Kalai Muthukumarasamy (29).She is working on her PhD-degree at the University of Copenhagen, where she is part of the Marie Curie Consortium. She and 14 other PhD-students work on atrial fibrillation in hearts, and they are hoping to suck up some useful research they can use when they resume to their work.“I study invitro and exvivo heart physiology, and explore different drugs and ion channels in heart electro physiology. But it would be very useful to learn more about the computational sides, and get ideas how computers can be useful in my field of work. There is so much to learn about that.”In addition, the 29 year old from India, also hopes that her stay at Summer School will help her form a network she can benefit from in the future.

“This is such a nice chance to learn from other researchers. The research they represent and have expertise in, is very important for us to know about.”

Cristobal Rodero (23) from Spain

“I am very excited. I am a mathematician, but I am interested in biology and medicine as well, so I am hoping that the program will help me achieve deeper knowledge in computer science and biomedicine”, says Cristobal Rodero.He is 23 years old, originally from Spain, but now he lives in London where he works on a PhD-degree in biomedical engineering at Kings College. He is part of the PIC-network.

“Combining sciences is the future. So, one of the things I find most intriguing here, is the fact that we all have different backgrounds. We are used to talking and communicating with people within our own field, so it is very useful to interact with researchers outside this. I expect that the experience will give me valuable insight, and thus broaden my horizon.”


  • Summer School in Computational Physiology 2018
  • The fifth annual joint summer school, held by Simula Research Laboratory, the University of California San Diego and the University of Oslo.
  • First half is held in Oslo, from June 18th-29th, the second half in San Diego, from August 9th-17th.
  • 26 students from 12 different countries participate.14 of them are women, 12 are men.
  • 17 of them are PhD-students, 6 are doing their MsC, 3 are post-doctors.
  • The core goal of the program is to promote successful research collaboration between the host institutions. The program includes both targeted research lectures and a practical project component.