Getting to Know: Katy Huff

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

This is the second in a series of posts about our contributors. We're posting these so our community can get to know each other better. If you'd like to be profiled, or you'd like to nominate another member, send an email to

This profile is of Katy Huff, a member of our steering committee, who is also on the finance subcommittee. We already know a little about Katy from her election nomination post; now, read about her history with Software Carpentry and her surprising backup career plan.

How did you become involved in SWC?

In 2008, when I was a graduate student in the University of Madison Wisconsin, my advisor, Paul P.H. Wilson, recommended that I watch this presentation that Greg put online while he was a professor at UT. Inspired by this, my friends and I, as The Hacker Within, created a workshop covering the topics that Greg emphasized as essential for scientists. Shortly thereafter, he found us when we popped up under search for Software Carpentry. A forever friendship was born.

What is your most memorable SWC moment?

Long ago, Greg sent me to Trieste, Italy to help teach Software Carpentry within a two week course for an international group of physicists. It was an intensive, advanced version of the Software Carpentry curriculum, but the students were dilligent and enthusiastic. Near the end of the course, my birthday came around and they all sang happy birthday in various languages to me over dinner. It was a blast but, most importantly, it felt very good to know I and Software Carpentry had been valuable to them.

If three phrases/words described you, what would they be?

Biking, vegetarian, nuclear engineer.

What research or work do you do?

I simulate various things involving nuclear energy. In my dissertation work, I focused on the systems analysis of nuclear material movement between facilities in the nuclear fuel cycle. In my postdoc, I have been more focused on multiphysics analysis of neutronics and thermal hydraulics in a very special advanced reactor design, the Pebble-Bed, Fluoride-salt-cooled, High-temperature Reactor (PB-FHR).

What programming languages and other technology do you regularly use?
  • Python (SciPy, NumPy, nose, PyTables)
  • C++
  • Git
  • CMake
  • Sphinx
  • doxygen
  • GoogleTest
Do you have any projects you'd like to shout out?

My friend Anthony Scopatz and I recently wrote a book which will be in print very very soon. I'm proud to occasionally contribute to :

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I would love to be a tenured professor someday. I love being part of the conversation at universities. Barring that, I would be happy to go back to being a bike messenger. That was the best job I've ever had.

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