Keith Bradnam has an excellent series of interviews with 39 notable Bioinformaticians at this link. Anyone interested in the field of Bioinformatics should check it out! Following is a summary of the advice from interviewees -
- There is always something new to learn in Bioinformatics everyday. It is an exciting and evolving field which keeps you engaged.
- Try to learn one new functional programming language such as Haskell or Clojure each year. And if possible, get formal training in Computer Science early on in your career. It will help you as you progress in this field.
- Many interviewees stressed this repeatedly - Learn Statistics! Statistics, Probability and Linear Algebra are some of the most important subjects you can teach yourself, as it is the backbone to a majority of bioinformatics tools you will be applying to solve complex problems. Continue taking online math classes as much as you can.
- Read any and every Bioinformatics book you can lay your hands on.
- Do not reinvent the wheel! Instead, make use of the plethora of bioinformatics tools already available to you.
- Visualization tools are really powerful. They help convey complex ideas in an intuitive manner. Add as many as you can to your toolbox. There are tons of R packages and command line tools which make it easy to visualize genomic data.
- Understand deeply the biology of the problem you are working on. This will help you ask the right questions while attempting to solving the problem. Keep studying biology whenever you can.
- Collaborate with other bioinformaticians. Get involved in open-source software project. You can learn certain skills only through collaborating with others.
- Keep tinkering with your own code. Work on your own bioinformatics side projects.
- Learn how to organize computational projects well. This is an important skillset to have, and your future self will thank you for it.
Other points I would add to the list -
- Make learning fun! The Manga Guide Series has engaging books on Statistics, Regression analysis, Calculus and Molecular Biology. Another source is Josh Starmer's youtube videos. He also has a new book that came out today!
- Keep yourself updated with the latest developments by reading publications. Bioinformatics, BMC Bioinformatics, BMC Genomics, Genome Biology and PLOS Computational Biology are some good journals to follow.
- Don't get too ambitious about wanting to learn everything at once. Yes, bioinformaticians are expected to know Statistics, Biology, Computer Science and Machine Learning, and that's just too much! Instead, learn the basics of all these subjects but go in-depth in just a couple of them.
- To keep yourself excited about this field, follow fellow bioinformaticians on Twitter. Being a part of an online community motivates you in the long term.
- Attend bioinformatics live seminars or watch bioinformatics talks on youtube often. Here is a good one.