Carnegie Mellon University

Undergraduate Student Spotlight

Hear from some of our talented students below about their experience as computational biology majors.

Mahitha Chaturvedula, class of 2026

Mahitha Chaturvedula

Hometown: Chicago, IL

As a biology major who isn’t looking to be on the pre-medicine track, I didn’t think there were a lot of options for me. I was stuck on what I wanted to do. I’ve had a huge passion for biology since 7th grade, and that passion was what carried me throughout high school and ultimately into college, where I wanted to focus on studying the various fields within biology, including developmental biology and genetics. Once I came to CMU, I talked to my advisor, Dr. Amanda Willard, and a few computational biology professors on their research in the computational biology field, and started to see a bridge between computer science, mathematics, and biology. This intersection truly sparked a new curiosity in me and was what led me to pursue a Computational Biology minor within the School of Computer Science. 

Computational biology allows me to gain an interdisciplinary education between numerous fields that I find interesting and can apply knowledge towards. I’m extremely grateful for the curriculum and what it has to offer to all students, regardless of your primary major.

Raehash Shah, class of 2024

Raehash Shah

Coming into CMU as a freshman, Computational Biology was an interest that I wanted to explore during college. After taking the introductory Computational Biology course, 02-251, I declared Computational Biology as my primary major since it provided me the best opportunity to use my computer science skills and apply it to my interests in biology to solve interesting problems. Since then, I have grown as a student who has pursued research, interned at biotech companies, and became a TA for influential courses to my college career including 02-251. In addition, I have found comfort among the Computational Biology community at CMU. The Undergraduate Computational Biology Society, which I became president of, connected like-minded students interested in biotech to network and learn about we can be pioneers in the field.

Max Shushkovsky, class of 2024

Max Shushkovsky

Fun Fact: I play for the varsity men's soccer team at CMU!

Comp bio at CMU has helped me narrow down my interests in the massive realm of computer science, leading me to pursue full time opportunities in software engineering for companies that try to speed up the drug discovery process and help develop therapeutics. While here, I've found some of my best friends because of both the smaller major size and events to get to know both undergraduates and master students. I even got to join an intramural soccer team composed of comp bio students, which has been a blast. Course wise, the most interesting course I've taken at CMU in my four years here has been 02-251, the introduction to computational biology course taught by Phillip.

Maggie Zhang, class of 2022

Maggie Zhang

Hometown: Shanghai, China.
Minor: Linguistics 
Fun Facts: I was briefly a sailor, a coral babysitter and a fly-swatter (luckily, not all at the same time).
Favorite spot at CMU: The common area on GHC 7th Floor*—you can see amazing sunsets with a big cathedral** in sight.

*CB dept. is on the same floor!
**Cathedral of Learning

Back in high school, I was interested in, but frustrated by, how complicated it was (and still is) to design individualized treatments for psychological disorders. Without any prior experience in CS, I came into CMU CB, with the belief that by using computers, we have a better chance at solving REALLY HARD problems about our brain and health in general. Indeed, for the past 3 years, I have learned constantly how CS accelerates biological discoveries, and at the same time, I fell in love with the idea that bio-systems can provide crucial insights for computation.

While my home department and college provide me with the necessary education and training, my CB journey continues outside of CMU. I was away for Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program 2020 Spring and explored how my Comp Bio skills could be applied to Intertidal Ecology. I stayed on in the summer at the Oceanography lab there to create pipelines for automatic analysis of field images. This summer (2021), I’m at Rockefeller University, conducting research on extracting acoustic features of ALS patients. In retrospect, I never would have imagined the breadth of the problems I could take on as a CB major and I’m happy to be exploring more:)

Stephen Price, class of 2021

Stephen Price

Hometown: Houston, TX
Fun fact: I won the newbie breakdance award my freshman year at CMU at a CMU breakdance competition.
Favorite thing about CMU: Working in the Health and Human Performance Lab

Computational biology is a unique place at CMU that draws together students with both strong technical skills and a drive to make the world a healthier place. For me, computational biology offered me a chance to develop a skill set in biology and opened many doors. While at CMU, I became involved with research as part of the Health and Human Performance Lab with Professor David Creswell. While in the lab, I had the opportunity to gain expertise in working with longitudinal health and sensor data to better inform and improve student health outcomes. Additionally, I had the opportunity to compete with a couple of my CMU peers at a number of different medical hackathons and spent my spare time volunteering on the CMU Emergency Medical Service as an EMT. Computational biology was the perfect place for me because my courses worked hand-in-hand with my interest in computational medicine and helped me grow into my current role as a data science intern at Evidation Health. Joining computational biology at CMU was an amazing experience and I always encourage anyone interested in the intersection between biology/medicine/health and technology to consider joining computational biology.