.py in the sky

Musings on Python, Astronomy, and Open Science

And now for something completely different!

I am excited to share that at the end of 2015 I will leave my 'traditional' academic position and will start a new chapter in my professional life! During my time as a researcher, it has become clear that what I enjoy most is finding new ways to do science, developing robust and re-usable software, and helping and teaching others to do so. Throughout my projects, I have constantly tried to promote good research and software practices (such as reproducible research), and create tools that could be used by others and are applicable beyond my specific research area. In the last few years, I have also been incredibly lucky to have been involved as one of the co-ordinators and lead developers of the Astropy project. My goal is now to transform my passion for scientific software and open science into a full-time job, rather than fitting it in between all the usual responsibilities of a traditional academic job.

In January, I therefore plan to start working full time as a freelance consultant! I hope to work on projects relating to scientific software development, data analysis, as well as open science, and will continue to provide training workshops for Python and scientific computing. I am interested in focusing not only on projects in astronomy, but applying these skills to projects in other fields of science, and eventually maybe even to projects outside science. This is going to be an exciting transition that I hope will open many new opportunities!

I will remain involved in the development of many of the Python packages I have worked on in the last few years. In particular, I will continue to help with the coordination and development of the Astropy project, and I will continue to support many Python packages that I have developed or co-developed over the years (such as APLpy, WCSAxes, Glue, astrodendro, and many more).

Until the end of the year, I will be wrapping up existing research projects. After this, I will no longer invest a significant amount of time into projects from a research point of view (but will of course be open to opportunities to contribute to projects as a consultant on matters relating to software development and data analysis). I will continue to support the Hyperion radiative transfer package and will be happy to help anyone interested in contributing new features. I would love for more developers to get involved in this project, so please get in touch if you are interested in helping!

I will save my thoughts about the future of software in astronomy for another time, in particular about the lack of stable academic career paths for people interested in research software development (as opposed to telescope and instrumentation-related software development, which is at least supported by some institutes and/or projects, although also not enough). For now, suffice to say that any change in this respect cannot happen fast enough from my point of view, and I am very much looking forward to continuing to try and impact the way science is done, from outside the traditionally followed path.