2016 Election: Leanne Wake

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

Academic background

You can find me in the Department of Geography in the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, UK. In 2010 I obtained my PhD in Geophysics from Durham University, UK. I would describe myself, broadly, as an Earth system modeller. I try to understand the workings of a complex world through the 0s and 1s of code but I have been known get my hands dirty with fieldwork!

Relevant experience

Having been exposed to a wide variety of code instruction techniques (from “you’re on your own, mate” to “Paired Programming”), I became motivated to find out what the right method was to introduce someone to code. I became involved in Software Carpentry (SWC) via a Fellowship in 2014 with the Software Sustainability Institute. My main interest is software education - see here. I qualified as a SWC instructor in 2015 and subsequently co-led a workshop at St Andrew’s University in the summer of 2015.

How I will contribute to the growth of Software Carpentry

Global Expansion:

Involvement with the Software Sustainability Institute and SWC has convinced me that SWC should be made available to as wide a user-base as possible. As a geographer, I was drawn to this section of the SWC website, and saw that SWC’s global coverage could be improved. Imagine the scenario:

  • Institute to Funder: ‘I’d like some money to host a Software Carpentry workshop, please’
  • Funder: ‘What percentage increase in coding ability can we expect from this investment?’
  • Institute: ‘Ummmmm….’

Metrics and Quality Assurance (QA) are a part of everyday life but also huge bugbears for most in academia. However, I believe they can be used as agents for change for SWC.

As part of my tenure on SWC’s steering committee, I’d like to work with interested parties both inside and outside SWC towards development of a ‘influence metric’ that SWC can use to show the positive impact of it’s teaching. Let’s turn those post-it notes into points!

Course Content:

Parallelisation: Making your code more efficient. You have built a car - how do you turn it into a Ferrari? How many folks do you know have a fancy multi-core machine, yet only use a single core? SWC is contributing towards reproducible science, how about efficient science?

Organisational Duties/Miscellaneous:

I am willing to accept any admin duties to ensure fluidity and expansion of the organisation, e.g.:

  • Maintaining a live instructor database indicating temporal availability of instructors.

  • Recruitment: Workshop and participants number are increasing; Instructor numbers are tailing off.

Anything else we should know?

I own a lightsaber.


If you are not sufficiently convinced of my enthusiasm and nerdiness and don’t vote for me, I hope that any members that have taken the time to read this and who find value in these ideas will take them forward.



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