2016 Election: Kate Hertweck

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

Hello fellow educators and coding enthusiasts! I’m terribly excited to offer myself as a candidate for the Software Carpentry Steering Committee. See below for answers to a few questions you might have about whether I’d be a good fit.

Who are you?

I’m an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Tyler in small but diverse Biology Department. My position is officially described as bioinformaticist, but I specialize in comparative genomics and collaborate on many different types of biological data analysis. I teach graduate and undergraduate classes in bioinformatics, genomics, and plant taxonomy.

Don’t I know you from somewhere?

Perhaps! I was trained as an instructor in fall 2014, taught three workshops in 2015, and attended Data Carpentry’s Genomics Hackathon last spring. If you checked out the Instructor Retreat last fall, you may also recognize me from the session on assessing student performance using Socrative.

Most of my involvement over the last year has been through serving on the mentoring subcommittee. If you’ve attended a debriefing discussion after teaching a workshop, chances are good that I was one of your hosts and/or helped write a blog post summarizing those sessions. I’m also coordinating pre-workshop help sessions for instructors preparing to teach.

How can you help Software Carpentry?

My work on the mentoring subcommittee has given me a deep appreciation for the particular challenges faced by both our instructors and workshop attendees. There are four main areas I’d like to target as a member of the Steering Committee this upcoming year:

  1. Instructor preparation: Many instructors are noting similar difficulties in debriefing sessions. While there are many resources to help plan for workshops, I would like to help instructors sift through this multitude of information to help their lessons go as smoothly as possible. This includes streamlining information available and fielding questions during pre-workshop help sessions.
  2. Teaching for HPC: Software Carpentry skills are especially important in my subdiscipline, as they are essential for analysis using high performance computing resources. I’m interested in developing lessons that will help entry-level coders use compute clusters.
  3. Assessing student adoption of skills: Assessment is definitely a hot topic right now! In addition to basic metrics of student learning from our workshops, I’m keenly interested in assessing which and with what frequency skills are adopted by student learners into their scientific workflows. Moreover, what is the best recommendation we can give for helping students continue learning on their own? Attend another workshop? Join a coding working group?
  4. Community and inclusivity: A large part of what I appreciate about Software Carpentry is the sense of community and willingness to embrace diversity and inclusivity. As a member of the Steering Committee, I would keep these values at the forefront of my mind as we develop policies, especially in relation to audiences who may otherwise feel isolated (culturally, geographically, or otherwise).

Why do you want to serve on the steering committee?

Software Carpentry brings rays of sunshine into my work life on a weekly basis. No joke! This group has been essential for my career development, both as a scientist and educator. I want to contribute more to this group. Given that the pedagogical methods of Software Carpentry dovetail nicely with many of the semester-long courses I teach, service on the Steering Committee could be an important source for my career development, so it really is a win-win situation!

How can I learn more?

I’m easily stalk-able on the intertubes! You can find me on twitter as @k8hert, GitHub, and I have both a (sorely neglected) blog and research/teaching website. I’m generally happy to talk to other folks passionate about these same sorts of topics, so feel free to drop me a line!

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