2015 Election: Jonah Duckles

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

Hi, I'm Jonah Duckles, I have been active in teaching Software Carpentry workshops (seven so far) and have found a joy in teaching and learning this curriculum that has made me passionate about the mission of the organization. In my job, I work to spread knowledge, skills and competency in wide ranging areas of scholarly computing. Serving on the Software Carpentry Steering Committee would be a natural extension of my current job, dovetailing well into my current responsibilities and I'm excited to be considered.


At the University of Oklahoma, my job is to help researchers by removing friction points in their data-slinging workflows. This is not necessarily about computing performance, but finding the appropriate computing tools for the task at hand. First we embed with research teams to understand their research and sticking points. At the same time we survey the existing tool space to understand hardware and software environments available in the open source and commercial spaces seeking to understand how they might be applied to research goals. Then we work to marry available tools and techniques toward solving researcher's challenges.

I see the work of Software Carpentry as being able to catalyze research through skills development, accelerating scientific inquiry with the appropriate application of tools to problems. Software Carpentry has formalized the way I think about how to best deliver an understanding of complex technical tools to scientists with widely varied backgrounds and experience. I find myself most passionate and engaged when working across disciplines and within groups that are solving complex problems. Software Carpentry is a key tool for scientists to be able to solve those problems.


Software Carpentry is a great introduction for scientists. Along with the core work of the committee, I'd like to work to champion the expansion and support of our community in two key ways:

1. Community building for institutions post workshop

I'd like to survey past workshop organizers and learners to understand what works and doesn't work in their attempts to sustain momentum of workshops and continuing to develop skills. It can be tricky to keep the momentum going, and I'm convinced it is about building and sustaining local communities in departments and lab groups that can share and advance their skills together. I would work to identify successful methods of sustaining and expanding skills and expertise for learners and pilot those programs for groups.

2. International expansion

Expanding the network of instructors and workshops to even more international locations would help to make this a worldwide movement. These skills are important to 21st century scientific problem solving and I'd like to strive to spread them as far as possible. I will work to identify and seek funding opportunities on behalf of the Foundation and its partners that would enable our instructor corps to teach workshops and train instructors in lesser served places around the world. We'd also work to identify language teams that can own and manage course material in the most common native-languages of the world. Then lay out a vision and plan for non-english course material to be updated and expanded in the future.

Thank you for your consideration. I am passionate about the mission of the Software Carpentry Foundation and I hope to continue to instruct and serve The Software Carpentry Foundation in many ways, both formal and informal in the future.

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