UMass Physics Graduate Student Petite Profile:
The George Washington University in Washington D.C.
I study the flexibility of simple biological polymers using fluorescence spectroscopy techniques in Lori Goldner’s lab. I also spend a good portion of my day thinking about statistical techniques for improving the information yield of fluorescence experiments. A good portion of this thought is inspired by work coming out of the machine learning community; you can have lots of fun pondering how to squeeze information out of data.
What motivates your open-source work?
For one I enjoy thinking about interesting problems; of which there are many in the open-source world. It’s also rewarding to fix something that is broken. I find it interesting just being embedded in the community. The whole concept of an open-source “community” is fascinating; you have people who have never seen one another communicating through fairly meager channels — email primarily — and yet work together to build what in many cases are rather incredible things. The fact that such loosely-knit structures can function so well to this day instills a sense of awe. Whenever I see something that east at my faith in humanity, I think back to this.
Favorite Band or Concert:
Anything with a good jam is definitely a win. At the end of July you’ll find me at Gathering of the Vibes, a festival in Bridgeport. Usually I tend to go through phases of listening to show after show of a given artist. Recently it’s been Yonder Mountain String Band. Last week it was Primus. Before that The Infinite Flow, a group from Minnesota I found on archive.org. Before that I was listening to some Grateful Dead show from the early 70’s. These streaks don’t last long but they’re pretty intense.
I really love hiking in the White Mountains. It’s a good portion of the reason why I was so excited about coming back to this area. There’s never enough time, though.
Most memorable traveling experience:
A few years back I was planning a trip to Sweden. My flight was passing through Reykjavik so I thought it would be nice to stop for awhile and bike for a few days around Iceland. The initial feeling of biking out of the suburbs of Reykjavik into the hills to the East was just beautiful: when turning off of Route 1 to the West you are flanked on either side by hills; turn around and have this incredible view out to the ocean and mountains to the North. I was biking, hiking, and sleeping in the rain for the next three days but I enjoyed every moment of it. I spent a week in Sweden after that layover, but by far the most memorable moments were during those few days of glorious biking.
Fun project(s) outside research:
Oh dear, there are too many. I enjoy learning programming languages - my most recent love has been Haskell. One of the nice features of the Haskell community is that it intersects nicely with research from a variety of fields.
Otherwise, I like building things. I built a 3D printer a few years ago which has been in a perpetual state of disrepair ever since. It’s fun to tinker on it every once in awhile. I’m currently in the process of building a web-enabled thermostat for my apartment. I also contribute to a number of open-source hardware and software projects. A lot of which is essentially scratching itches - something doesn’t work and I need it to. Some of it is just for play, though.