Learner Profiles

These profiles describe the potential indivuduals that we anticipate as learners for this lesson and can be used to help you decide if this material is right for you or your students. If you plan to contribute material to this lesson, these will help you understand the target audience so that we can have a collaboratively developed, but cohesive lesson.

Miriam Microscopist

Miriam is a first-year PhD student in Biology, with an undergraduate degree in Pharmacology and a Masters in Biochemistry. She has moved to the UK from the Egypt for her PhD, and English is her second language. Miriam will be generating a lot of data in her PhD from microscopy and other assays, but has never dealt with so much data before and hasn’t thought through what is involved. She has used mostly “Office”-style applications before, and has done barely any coding. Miriam is taking this workshop as part of her PhD training and hasn’t thought through what the workshop will do for her.

The course will help Miriam to get a picture of the data analysis and management challenges she will face during the PhD, and of the tools available to help her solve them. It will introduce the concept of scripted data analysis and why that might have benefits over GUI applications.

Stuart Simulator

Stuart is starting his Postdoc in Epidemiology following a PhD in Mathematics. During his PhD, he did a mixture of theoretical work and simulations written in MATLAB. Although he’s written code in a few languages, he has picked it up as he goes along and has never attended a programming-focused taught course. Stuart struggles to organize his simulations and constantly loses track of which script produced which output, which has caused difficulties in collaborations. Stuart is overconfident and thinks he knows a lot about computational work due to his degrees in Mathematics; but he’s started to realize that he is wasting a lot of time due to poor organization while some of his colleagues seem to be more efficient. Stuart is taking the course because another Postdoc told him he should use version control, as they were complaining about work at the departmental tea.

The course will introduce Stuart to good habits in project organization, file naming, and scripting, that can immediately help his work. It will introduce the concepts of version control and could motivate Stuart to learn Git.

Gertrude Group Leader

Gertrude is a Professor in Biophysics. She has learned Fortran as a PhD student and does a lot of scripting in BASH to run Fotran77 code she wrote 20 years ago. She has never been taught any formal programming and has not really followed any modern scientific computing or data management practices. She has been running a successful computational research group for the last 15 years, but is starting to realize her expertise are out-dated and managing large data and retaining computational knowledge in the group is difficult without better structures.

Gertrude is taking the course, in order to have a better understanding of current best practices to make sure her research group implements these correctly. She hopes that in this way she can point her students in the right direction and equip them with robust data handling practices. Proper version control of any data and programs developed in the group will help make any code developments outlast a single PhD student and help retain knowledge within the group and promote reproducibility and transparency.

Linus the Lab Manager

Linus is the Lab Manager of a large lab that combines computational and experimental techniques and is in charge of making sure the lab is running smoothly. They are responsible for organising lab meetings, staying on top of data handling and making sure students and postdocs follow best practices for data management and computing needs. Their training however is slightly outdated and the volume of data and different software used and ways to stay on top of these has increased over the last 10 years as a Lab Manager in the group. They find that new ways need to be implemented to be able to stay on top of projects ensure students and Postdocs get equipped with the best practices knowledge on how to structure data how to version and archive data.

They take the course to make sure that best practices for data management and project structures are implemented in the group and that this information can form part of the research group and will not be lost through a Postdoc or PhD student leaving.

Udaya the Undergraduate

Udaya is an undergraduate student from Malaysia, who has been enrolled for her entire degree at an English speaking university. She has very clear ambitions and wants to become a scientist in Microbiology combining computational and experimental techniques. For her final year project, she has identified a young and dynamic research group to teach her essential skills that will give her an edge for her PhD application. She is keen to identify as much useful training that will help her be effective at planning and running experiments and simulation, understand how to organize and archive data.

She is taking the course because her MSc supervisor suggested that it would be a good way to get started and organized for her project work and it will also help her equip her with essential skills for her future career as a Research Scientist.