2015 Election: Katy Huff

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

Software Carpentry has been part of my life for over six years, I began as an instructor, organizer, and curriculum developer and have been honored to grow as a researcher alongside Software Carpentry as it evolved over that time. In these years, I have organized and taught over a dozen workshops and have, for the last four months, served as an interim Steering Committee member. I have also made an effort to expand the reach of Software Carpentry as a co-author of both the Best Practices paper and a new O'Reilly book, "Effective Computation in Physics: Field Guide to Research in Python." Of course, none of this pays the bills. For that, I am a nuclear engineer...


My scientific background includes a BA in Physics (University of Chicago, 2008) and a PhD in Nuclear Engineering (University of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013). I am currently a postdoc in Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. There, I am a fellow within the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS) and a postdoctoral scholar with the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium. Currently, I investigate safety and sustainability in advanced nuclear reactors and systems using multiphysics simulation and agent-based modeling, respectively.


Of course, my path was strongly influenced by Software Carpentry. In 2008, as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, I helped to found a peer-instruction group called The Hacker Within. This group shares many of the same goals as Software Carpentry, conducts weekly meetings for skill-sharing, and, at the University of Wisconsin, conducted occasional large workshops on programming practices and languages. When my PhD advisor, Paul Wilson, introduced us to Greg's Software Carpentry concepts in a video online, we were inspired to create a Software Carpentry workshop on our own. Greg soon thereafter stumbled upon it online and emailed us. An incredible friendship was formed and THW material seeded much of the workshop material we are still using today in Software Carpentry. My involvement since then as an instructor, organizer, and curriculum developer has allowed me to stand in front of hundreds of students, hone my teaching skills, meet innumerable wonderful people, and serve as a member of the interim Steering Committee.


When Software Carpentry became an independent foundation, I was thrilled to become part of the interim Steering Committee. I served in many ways: by signing the official Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement with NumFocus, electing Greg as our Executive Director, hashing over budgets, advocating Software Carpentry, drafting many of the documents now guiding nascent SCF actions, and much more.

If elected to the 2015 Steering Committee, I would be pleased to take on any role. That said, the role of Secretary would be of most interest to me. I have served successfully as an executive committee member, secretary, treasurer, vice-chair, and chair of many organizations. Some of the organizations that I have helped to lead include The Hacker Within at Wisconsin and Berkeley, the American Nuclear Society's Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division, its Young Members Group, Nuclear Pride, and others. Similarly, I have demonstrated my dedication and efficacy as a community leader through two years as Technical Program Co-Chair of the SciPy Scientific Python Conference.

As a member of the Steering Committee, I will be dedicated to the sustainable growth of the Software Carpentry community and its mission. As Damien mentioned in his candidacy announcement, this transition period for the SCF will be an important one that will require extraordinary organization, cohesion, and dedication from its Steering Committee members. As I have always strived to do, I intend to give generously of my time, skills, social capital, and enthusiasm to move Software Carpentry forward into a strong, sustainable era.

In particular, if I am elected as Secretary, I hope to emphasize radical transparency in Committee actions and communications. A key role for the committee will be to communicate as effectively, inclusively, and clearly as possible with the Software Carpentry community of instructors, learners, and other stakeholders. In an analogy to open science, I hope to facilitate those goals by ensuring transparent, multi-channel, multi-directional communication among the members of the community in such a way that the Steering Committee hears them and is, itself, heard.

It would be impossible to overemphasize the impact Software Carpentry has had on me as a researcher and a human. In return, I hope to continue to serve this amazing community as a member of the Software Carpentry Steering Committee. For more details, please check out my website, peruse CV, or contact me directly via email.

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