This week we welcome Maria Camila Remolina Gutierrez (@holamariacamila) as our PyDev of the Week! Maria recently gave a talk at PyCon USA in their new PyCon Charlas track last month. You can learn more about Maria on her website or you can check out her Github profile to see what she has been doing in the open source world. Let’s take a few minutes to get to know her better!
Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):
My name is Maria Camila. I am a 23-year-old Colombian. I am a Physicist and soon to be Systems and Computing Engineer (I will graduate in June 2018). I am studying at Universidad de los Andes in Bogota¡, Colombia. My main area of research so far is computational astrophysics, especially simulations. I am very interested in the topics of infrastructure, high-performance computing, and security. Regarding my hobbies, I love pottery and ceramics, I have been doing it for 1.5 years so far. Also, I’ve been trying to learn bongo drums in my spare time. Finally, I love learning new languages, especially because it is binded to the culture of the countries that speak them, so it allows you to discover the world in a different way.
Why did you start using Python?
Python was my first programming language. I used it first as a senior in high school at a Summer Science Program, in order to implement Gauss’ orbit determination method. Me and my team took 3 observations of a Near Earth Object and we wanted to obtain its orbital elements. We used python to implement all the algorithm and data processing. It was also my first time programming, so I loved how Python made it easier to me to get started in this area.
What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?
What projects are you working on now?
I am finishing my undergrad education, I graduate this summer. I am preparing to start my master in computer science in Paris, France in the fall. My two current and main projects are my research in astronomy and my undergrad engineering thesis. For the first, I am in the process of publishing my first paper as first author (:D) on simulations of rotating Lyman Alpha galaxies. For the second, I finished an implementation of a program for civil engineers that creates a minimum cost design of a sewers system, all using parallel computation.
Which Python libraries are your favorite (core or 3rd party)?
Numpy, Scipy, Matplotlib and Pandas! I estimate that 90% of my imports are these 4 libraries. They are fundamental for my data processing, analysis and plotting. I’ve used them in all my research for almost 5 years already.
How did you become a part of the PyCon Charlas track this year?
This is an interesting story. I went to give a talk at Pycon Colombia (my first Pycon ever). Naomi Ceder and Lorena Mesa were there as keynote speakers, but also promoting the PSF. I went to their booth to talk to them (and also get some stickers!) and they were giving out small flyers with the Pycon Charlas promotion. They really motivated me to apply and get financial aid for the travel. And so I did. I was honored to be selected and also funded by PyLadies. This (huge) Pycon has been one of the greatest experience I’ve had! (Here’s a pic that proves it)
What is your motivation for working in open source?
My motivation is that one of the world’s greatest problems is inequality. However, I believe the current state of computation and technology has opened and era where accessing information is definitely easier. Now you don’t have to pay college, not even go to high school. All you need/want to know is at the tip of your fingers. However, not everything can be free, and this is not wrong, it’s actually awesome how this industry gives people jobs. But this means that there is still software -really good software that could boost someone’s life- that you can only get by paying. So I think that giving people the power of these private tools for free, is the best way to grow our society. What motivates me it’s that what differentiates people is not their family inheritance, but their own personal work and effort. And open source allows this!
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Going to Pycon 2018 showed me how incredibly strong and kind is the Python community. I had a rough idea from online interactions, but I never imagined it to be this big. I think this is the best part of the language. That it joins people together, from all around the world, to create new products that exceed our expectations. And also to be humans together. I loved how there were open spaces to talk about mental health, or to do cross stitching, there was even one to play board games! I think we should never forget to be people before programmers. And I believe all the pythonistas I’ve met are exactly that.
Thanks for doing the interview, Maria!