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In my welcome blog post for Mademoiselle Scientist I talked about how I am a toxicologist. After earning my Masters degree I began to reevaluate my academic and career goals. I wanted to do something more. After writing out my goals in detail and making connections I decided that a career in global health and vaccine research is the career for me. Specifically, I’m interested in malaria and dengue vaccine research. Now, that I have a better understanding of what I want to do I added a new goal to my list: earn a Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology focusing on vaccine development.

In order to prepare myself for this academic and career journey I decided to plan and take action. If I want to pursue a career in vaccine development I must learn what experts in the field are talking about. For the past few months I explored different learning resources called Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and discovered Coursera.org.

Coursera.org is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) site I highly recommend for scientists or anyone that wants to gain knowledge in a particular field. The site has completely free courses. After completing a course with a grade of 80% or higher you can earn a Signed Certificate. Some courses have an additional option to earn a Verified Signature Tract with your course with a fee. Even though you cannot earn credits, Coursera.org is a good way to learn and stay up to date on information in your field.

When you go to the site you can create an account and start exploring courses. There are courses in science, engineering, math, business and much more. Most courses last about 5-15 weeks and you can enroll in many courses as you want. Another great thing about Coursera.org is that courses are available in different languages, at universities across the U.S. and many international universities. Take the plunge and sign up for a course or two.

When you enroll in a course you will have access to video lectures with audio and text, quizzes, homework and final exams. Once enrolled you can decide if you want to take the course at your own pace or with the pace of the class. If you see that a course already started to check the archives for more information or wait to see if it offered again. For example, Virology I was a popular science course last year and at the beginning of this year Virology II was added.

In addition to learning, Coursera.org is an interactive site. Depending on your course there will be over 20,000 students taking the course with you. By using the discussion forum feature you can interact with students, instructors, and staff.

Courses I’m Currently Taking /Starting Soon:

Virology II

Epidemiology: The Basic Science of Public Health

Courses I Completed & Recommend: 

Virology I

Virology II


Epidemics of Infectious Diseases

Introduction to Global Health

Side note: There are a few courses I signed up for to learn about items in a lecture or two.

Are you interested in virology, microbiology or infectious diseases? Check out: Dr. Vincent Racaniello’s Blog and Dr. Marcel Salathé  (and play the simulation game, called VAX!), you won’t be disappointed. I highly recommend them! I learned so much about virology and infectious diseases from their courses. I cannot wait to see what they will come up with next.

After taking a few courses I feel more knowledgeable and that I am taking actions to enter a vaccine development career. I still have many things to achieve on my action item list, but this is a good start.

Let me know if you have tried Coursera.org. Also, if you have any suggestions on other Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) websites or want more information let me know. Check it out and pass it on!

Stay tuned for a future post about additional resources for scientists!

Will you check Coursera.org out? Comment below.