Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

2015 Election: Jeramia Ory

At SciPy 2013, I had the good fortune to attend a tutorial lead by Matt Davis and Katy Huff. As an undergraduate educator in the sciences, I was immediately impressed with the people and excited to try their approach with my students. Matt encouraged me to complete instructor training, which I did in April of 2014.

What intrigued me from the start of instructor training was its focus on teaching pedagogical theory, not content. I have attended other faculty workshops and teaching conferences, and the concepts put forward in Software Carpentry instructor training have helped my teaching as much or more than those other events. Since completing instructor training, I have taught 3 workshops and attended Mozfest as a Software Carpentry instructor. I am scheduled to teach another workshop this month as well as a Data Carpentry workshop.

When I graduated with a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, my advisor described me as a "power user" and was grateful for my help administering the SGI machines. To this day I am not sure if he meant it as a compliment, but I remain a proficient user and enthusiast. Trained as a structural biochemist, I was a data curator at the Protein Data Bank for three years before starting my current position. I teach Biochemistry and Genetics to undergraduates at King's College, a small liberal arts college in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I continue to use computation now in my bioinformatics projects, and try not to gush about the IPython notebook too much when it comes up.

I have struggled whether or not to stand for election for a simple reason: I am not a computer scientist. I am not sure I will ever be a good programmer. The reason I am standing for election, however, is precisely because of the reception I have received from the moment I expressed interest to Matt. Despite my lack of formal computer science training, I feel valued. Software Carpentry is an actively inclusive group that constantly strives to bring in new people and new perspectives. I believe in its mission and want this inclusive community to continue. If elected, I will happily serve, my primary interests being:

  1. Mentor Models: Software Carpentry has begun talking about mentorship, and I want to make sure it develops and thrives. In my studies, I have met many committed teachers of all different backgrounds and personality types. The one quality they share is an ability to reflect and openly discuss their approach with their peers. Mentorship of teaching means creating a safe space for instructors to talk about their successes, their worries, and their perceived failures. Being heard and knowing struggle is not unique is enormously important, especially to new teachers.

  2. Curriculum Models: Many educators would love to teach their students using our materials, but lack the time or expertise to develop a course on their own. I would like to see our materials adapted to different formats, from mini-seminars that could be given to an after school program, to a semester-long university course. While there would be technical challenges to keeping the material coordinated, the community has demonstrated its ability to meet such a challenge.

Further ways to track me down include Twitter, my home page, and Github.


Dialogue & Discussion

You can review our commenting policy here.