Dr. João Rodrigues, one of our former MolSSI Software Seed Fellows, is now a Senior Scientist at Schrodinger. While a 2020 MolSSI Seed Fellow, João worked with MolSSI Software Scientist Dr. Levi Naden on developing an open-source library to characterize the chemistry and energetics of protein interfaces.
As a kid, I was always interested in science and often asked my parents for chemistry kits or encyclopedias as gifts. I remember being 7 or 8 and playing reviewer with a friend, pointing out mistakes in models of the solar system made by older students at our school. Later, as a biochemistry major in college, I was floored by the illustrations of proteins and nucleic acids in classical textbooks and decided this was what I wanted to study.
More so than the opportunity to work on my code, the MolSSI fellowship gave me the motivation and confidence that I was going in the right direction. It was unfortunate that COVID hit right at the beginning of the fellowship and I had to devote my attention to other projects, but I will definitely make use of what I learned for future projects. I also enjoyed meeting the rest of the mentors, scientists, and fellows and work with them for example on creating and presenting educational materials. That’s a fantastic initiative that should keep being funded and promoted.
The bootcamp we had in February was quite interesting. I can’t say I learned something I didn’t know before, but it was very useful to contextualize some of the concepts I had in my head and create a better roadmap for my project. It was also helpful to go through my fellow students’ and mentor’s code and see how they did certain things.
After 12 years doing research in academia, I am giving industry a chance and will join a drug development company to work on developing software for protein structure prediction. I definitely don’t rule out returning to academia later on, but one step at a time! I do plan on keeping developing open-source software for structural biology as much as I can.
The first time I tried to cook, I mistook a kiwi for a potato. So, I am proud that I managed to survive on my own in multiple countries since then. Scientifically speaking, I am most proud of my work with HADDOCK, which is used by thousands of researchers every year, for free.
Definitely traveling, specially with friends. Before COVID, I used to go on a “tour” every summer to visit friends all over Europe. I replaced that this year with short trips to national parks in California.
Scientifically, I would like to publish a single-author paper. I think that’s the ultimate proof of independence. Personally, it would be consistently running 10k in less than 1 hour.