2015 Election: Karin Lagesen

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

I have been involved with Software Carpentry since I attended a workshop in Oslo, Norway, in 2012. I started out as a student, then went through the second round of instructor training, before being an instructor at my first workshop in 2013. Since then, I have organized one workshop and been an instructor at five others. I have also been involved with revamping the pre-assessment forms. This work has been very fulfilling and challenging on very many levels, and I now want to expand on my efforts by volunteering for the steering committee.


I got my PhD in bioinformatics from the University of Oslo in 2008. My reason for choosing bioinformatics was simply that I could not figure out whether I preferred molecular biology or computer science, and thus I ended up doing both. During both my master's and my PhD work I did however become more computationally oriented, and today I would no longer trust myself with a pipette. I also have quite a lot of experience with high performance computing, both as a user and as a system administrator, and I know how infuriatingly frustrating these systems can be.

Since finishing my PhD, I have worked with people from many different backgrounds. I have frequently had occation to teach people with little to no computational education how to navigate a Unix system and how to do basic programming and analyses. This has been a lot of fun, but has also challenged my skills at translating between fields. It has also made me very aware of how difficult it is for somebody with no training in these fields to bootstrap themselves up to a level where they can get things done. From a bioinformatics perspective, this has for me made the skills that Software Carpentry teaches especially important. Bioinformatics as a discipline exists almost entirely within an Unix world, making the ability to work within that world quite crucial.


If elected, my main focus will be on mentoring instructors, and on building a Software Carpentry community. We are a rapidly growing organization, and we have many new people going through instructor training. All of these have to pass the hurdle of teaching their first workshop in order to be certified instructors, however, that can be intimidating. We should also not neglect our existing instructor pool. Our curriculum has lately undergone drastic changes, and we should work towards making the current lesson material easy to adopt for both new and existing instructors. Also, many instructors only know one or two other instructors. Encouraging closer connections between instructors can both help get new workshops off the ground, and can also contribute to knowledge dissemination between instructors and help foster collaborations.

Through my involvement with Software Carpentry, I have grown a lot in my own practices and in my own teaching. I now would like to help others experience the same by serving as a member of the steering committee. For more details about me, feel free to contact me on twitter (@karinlag) or email (karin.lagesen@medisin.uio.no). I also occasionally blog at blog.karinlag.no, where my CV is also available.

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