Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

2015 Election: Adina Howe

Hi! My name is Adina Howe, and I thank you for considering my qualifications to serve on the Steering Committee of the Software Carpentry Foundation.

Software Carpentry has played a major role in my professional development, and I would argue played an integral role in my ability to fulfill my dreams as becoming a tenure-track professor. In 2008, I participated in a Software Carpentry workshop at Michigan State University as a postdoc. At the time, my research required some computational prowess that I did not possess. SWC provided me a foundation, resources, and mentors to help me improve my skills and discuss my frustration and eventually success! This impact (and great instruction and mentorship) insprired me to join as one of the first round of instructors (2011-ish). For more details, please feel free to peruse my complete vitae.

Currently, I am an assistant professor at Iowa State University in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. I am so excited to be leading the Genomics and Environmental Research in Microbial Systems (GERMS) Lab where we apply all the skills that SWC teaches for teaching and research. I hope to be developing classes integrating many of the topics we discuss for Iowa State as well.

Previous Involvement with SWC

Like many of you, I have been involved in the development, instruction, and evaluation of workshops in the past three years. I also am proud to say that I love to brag about SWC and the opportunities it provides. I have contributed to bringing SWC to the state of Iowa, teaching both of the first workshops in the state. In total, I have taught a total of 8 workshops. I have helped recruit and mentor at least four to five new instructors (that I can think of). The best way to summarize my involvement is that I have been and continue to be personally invested in SWC and advocate for the organization and its mission when I can.

What I'd like to do

Going beyond my past role in SWC, I think my experience, strengths, and new position could help SWC in three strategic ways:

1) Identify and serve a broader SWC audience

The majority of my workshops have hosted graduate students. A few professors, staff, and undergraduates have also been involved, and I think there is an opportunity to reach out, serve, and impact this audience. Importantly, I think these opportunities are fundable (e.g., the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates). I believe that the skills we teach are useful beyond STEM students and would like to explore these opportunities.

2) Increase the effectiveness and impact of our lesson plans and examples

With the growing number of instructors, we have the energy and help to improve our lesson materials. I'd be interested in exploring specific example datasets wrapped around SWC lessons that could be used for targeted audience. For example, for bioinformatics, we could parse sequencing datasets rather than text files describing counting animals. Though teaching the same lessons, I think this would be incredibly useful and attractive to students.

3) Be thoughtful of the long term mission and visions of SWC and how we can make it a reality

Funding for a program like this is always going to be a challenge, and I would like to have plans for moving forward in sustainable direction. Further, I want to make sure that our mission and visions are discussed, representative, and transparent. I want to make sure that we are creating a resource-rich community for not only our students but each other.

Thank you for your consideration of me for the Steering Committee. I have loved being involved with SWC and look forward to my future involvement in any capacity that helps the foundation!

SOFTWARE CARPENTRY FOUNDATION · ELECTION 2015

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