This week we welcome Adina Howe as our PyDev of the week. I first heard about Mrs. Howe from an article on Nature.com about how Python is doing well in scientific circles and is worth learning. Currently she is a Biosystem Engineering professor at Iowa State University. Let’s spend some time getting to know more about her!
Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):
I am a new professor at Iowa State University in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. There, my team and I research the impacts of microorganisms on various environments ranging from soils, waters, to even our guts. Besides research, I really enjoy ultimate frisbee and am trying out for a roller derby team.
Why did you start using Python?
I started using Python because the datasets I was working with were too big to open in Excel and Word. In my research, I had also become tired of doing the same thing over and over again. I became very interested in reproducible and automated approaches to perform my analyses. When I started writing code in Python, I found that I’d have small enough “wins” every day that I was convinced to keep using it — and that continues even today.
What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?
My transcript says I should know C++, but I don’t remember any of it (that was more than 15 years ago). I regularly use R and shell scripts.
What projects are you working on now?
Mainly, I use programming for bioinformatic analysis, mainly data wrangling and munging. I also integrate different types of datasets together, for example, to study water quality I integrate biological, chemical, and land use datasets.
Which Python libraries are your favorite (core or 3rd party)?
My favorite would be IPython (Notebook). I also use NumPy and SciPy frequently, and also matplotlib for visualization. I’ve been using Requests lately as I am working with more automated queries to large databases. Someone introduced me to BeautifulSoup the other day – it seemed quite nifty to parse html.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I think Python is fantastic. The community of users and developers is terrific — in my experience, insanely productive, helpful, and unselfish. So I’d like to thank you and those who participate for being so welcoming and let you know that I am using your tools to try to make positive impact with my work.
Thank you for your time!
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