Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Lex Nederbragt: Nomination for 2018 Steering Committee

2018 Election: Nomination by Lex Nederbragt

Who am I?

My name is Lex Nederbragt. I am a bioinformatician (senior engineer) at the Institute of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Norway. I also have a 20% associate professor position at the Institute of Informatics at the University of Oslo. My research and teaching involve genomics, bioinformatics and programming for biologists.

Previous involvement with The Carpentries

I hosted the first Software Carpentry workshop at our university in 2012 (we were very fortunate to have Greg Wilson, one of the founders of Software Carpentry, teach the workshop himself!). I became a Software Carpentry instructor in 2013 and a Data Carpentry instructor in 2016. I have taught at numerous Software and Data Carpentry workshops, both in Oslo, in Norway and abroad. In 2016, I also became an Instructor Trainer and I have co-taught a couple of Instructor Training workshops since then. Together with Karen Lagesen, I started a ‘Carpentry’ initiative at the University of Oslo which now has grown to a dozen local instructors, and another dozen helpers, and many workshops, some full two-day, standard Software or Data Carpentry workshops, but increasingly half to one-day workshops teaching just one lesson of the Carpentries material.
I have contributed to the unix, git, python and make lesson, and this year, I became one of the maintainers of the Data Carpentry ‘Wrangling Genomics Data’ lesson.
Finally, I am very proud of having been one of the authors of the ‘Good Enough Practices in Scientific Computing’ paper that was published earlier this year.

What I would do as a member of the Steering Committee to contribute to the growth and success of the community

If elected, I would focus on these areas:

  • communication: I am a strong believer in transparency and I would strive for members of the new organisation to have easy access to relevant information on what is going on ‘behind the scenes’, both directly (spreading information on the blog/email lists) and by making documents easily available online
  • feeling of belonging: a community is stronger if more people feel they belong to it, and although I have no clear answers, I’d like to pose the question as to how we can ensure all our members feel at home in the new organisation
  • branding: we need to find a strategy on how to ‘sell’ the new organisation (and by what name), or whether it is better to keep the focus on the existing brands of “Software Carpentry’ and “Data Carpentry”
  • lesson material: Software Carpentries lessons are often more polished than the Data Carpentry ones. There is currently a big push to improve the Data Carpentry lessons and release new versions of them, and I would like to see how we as an organisation can further these developments. Additionally, I think the time is ripe to consider starting (or reviving) the development of intermediate Software Carpentry lesson materials - for those with enough experience using what they learned in a workshop to take their skills to the next level
  • teaching beyond the Carpentries: many instructors, not least myself, use what they have learned and experienced through the Carpentries to further develop their own teaching in university courses or elsewhere. I would be interested in trying to build a community of Carpentry-inspired teachers, teachers interested in sharing what they have learned with regard to teaching (under)graduate courses

Software and Data Carpentry have been an incredible force for many people’s careers, including mine, and it is very rewarding and satisfying to be able to give back to the community. Given the opportunity, I am looking forward to helping shape the new merged organisation in 2018 as a member of the Steering Committee.

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