I have always been passionate about the combination of problem-solving and creative thinking that computer science requires. During my undergraduate MEng Computing programme, I noticed that I wanted to apply my passion towards protecting our planet and the incredible species we share it with. While several interdisciplinary degrees are targeted towards natural scientists entering computer science, the MSc Theoretical and Computational Methods programme at the University of Helsinki stood out to me as one of very few that offered me the freedom to patch up my natural science background whilst continuing to build upon my computing knowledge.
Since the TCM programme has (almost) no required courses, it provided me with extreme freedom in designing my personal course mixture from the offering throughout the Faculty of Science. Most classes I chose were small and allowed me to get to know the lecturers and their research more personally. Through these courses, I quickly got involved with one research group and worked with them on a short project which eventually led to my Masters thesis. The interdisciplinary focus and surprising amount of collaboration between research groups allowed me to then work with several of them to expand my skillset from different perspectives. Throughout, I always felt well-supported by the university.
Before starting the TCM programme, I already knew I wanted to continue with a PhD that would allow me to use computer science with a climate science application. During my first year, I was approached by one of my lecturers with a proposal for a PhD topic that fit with what I had hoped for. TCM gave me the freedom to patch up my natural science background, to work on diverse projects with different research groups that gradually moved me closer to a research topic that allowed me to best utilise my skills and passions, and to meet several wonderful researchers who mentored me during my two year Masters degree.
Before starting at TCM, I had graduated from the Bachelor's Physics program here at Helsinki. During my Bachelor studies, I realized I really like the mix of theoretical physics and computer simulations. TCM gave me a nice opportunity to study both, since the program is so flexible. For me that's the best thing about TCM: you could pretty much freely compile your perfect Master's program from any physics or near-physics courses you like, and study those things in a supportive and welcoming environment.
I have since graduated from TCM but I'm still continuing studying and working here at Helsinki as a PhD student. I am aiming for a career as a researcher within the field of theoretical physics, and I feel the TCM program helped my closer to my goal.
I did my B.Sc. in chemistry and for me, the most interesting area of the field became theoretical and computational chemistry, which meant I took quite a few physics courses as well at the bachelor level.
This programme was perfect for me because it allowed me to choose courses from a variety of modules and to build a study plan that suited my interests. I had the chance to deepen my knowledge of quantum theory and programming as the basic building blocks of my degree, while freely choosing other courses I found interesting.
After my M.Sc. degree I continued in academia and the programme provided all the theoretical knowledge needed for my field of research, which is computational chemistry. I find this very important because if the theoretical part is familiar, it works as a good ground to build upon.