Started CodeStories in 2017 to help teach Python to life science graduate students.
Bioinformatics Engineer at Invitae.
Co-taught InPyBio-18 and InPyBio-19; helps with ongoing development efforts.
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Ph.D. candidate at UNC-CH.
Co-taught InPyBio-17 and helped develop the first version of CodeStories.
Graduate Research Assistant at GMU.
The reason there aren't spelling mistakes everywhere.
Math Teacher in Spring Hill, TN.
Makes sure the app doesn't crash when you look at it.
Life Sciences Patent Agent at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.
CodeStories began as a conversation in 2015 when a group of first-year life science graduate students at UNC-Chapel Hill took a taxing biophysics course that highlighted a couple of issues:
The students decided to organize and lead their own summer course. As someone who’d had those exact realizations a couple years earlier as a biochem undergrad, I volunteered as a cofounder to teach what I knew about coding at the time.
In order to keep class sizes manageable, we capped course registration at 60 students. It was full in less than two days. The six-week course was a huge success, with surveyed students indicating that they both learned a lot and enjoyed themselves. As will be obvious to many of you, six weeks is hardly enough time to fully learn how to program. The instructors were aware of this from the start, even electing to call the course How to Learn to Code. We aimed not only to teach the fundamentals of programming but to provide students with the tools to continue their education on their own. This belief that it’s as important to teach the discoverability of programming as it is to teach coding itself is still a key aspect of our teaching philosophy.
Despite our best efforts, however, some portion of students later reported that they’d largely abandoned coding, citing a lack of comfort with programming on their own. In response, InPyBio was born in 2016. The goal was (and remains) to teach individuals who have learned what they could by teaching themselves via MOOCs and beginner sites how to feel comfortable translating their biological experiments into algorithms and data structures. The class takes a project-based learning approach, focusing on real-world problems that students might need to solve in their careers and ensuring that students constantly have sufficient context to understand why what they’re learning is important.
Work on the CodeStories webapp also began in 2016, due to a need to engage students not only in the classroom but also throughout the week. Primarily, I wanted a tool that would allow students to submit scripts they’d written and have the code automatically graded. A number of sites offer this general functionality, but there were a few other requirements:
We couldn’t find anything that fit these criteria, so we built it ourselves. CodeStories has been in use at UNC every summer since.
Even though I’ve always believed that bioinformatics is going to be one of the most important careers in the coming decades and that training future scientists and engineers is a critical responsibility for current bioinformaticians, I was originally planning on leaving this project behind when I graduated. The events of the past couple months, however, have forced me to reconsider, due to a couple of key insights:
While both CodeStories and InPyBio have a long history at this point, this summer is going to be the first time it’s going to be opened to a general audience. And, of course, it’s the first time it’s going to be remote. I have to say...I’m really excited about seeing how this new chapter turns out!