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Building a community of tech savvy astronomers

Building a community of tech savvy astronomers

A short 12 minute talk presented at the 2016 Astronomical Society of Australia Annual General Meeting, University of Sydney, Australia.

Conference website: http://www.asa2016.org


Dr. Arna Karick

July 07, 2016


  1. Building a community of TECH SAVVY ASTRONOMERS Dr. Arna Karick

    ! @drarnakarick Astronomical Society of Australia AGM, 7th July 2016
  2. This talk is about challenging the status quo

  3. Why build a community of tech savvy astronomers?

  4. The next generation telescopes and large science-surveys will require astronomers

    to handle large volumes and complex datasets. Developing new tools and data analysis techniques will be crucial for rapid science.
  5. The rise of “data science” in academia and the technology

    industry has created a generation of researchers who are keen to explore new approaches, embrace new techniques, and eager to build new tools to manipulate, explore, analyse, interpret complex datasets. Many researchers want to be tech savvy – the combination of data analysis and innovative tools and projects is appealing. http:/ /www.arnakarick.com/data-science/
  6. The lack of tenured positions and non-traditional roles in astronomy

    makes the tech industry a very attractive alternative.
  7. Astronomy communities in the US and Europe are leading the

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  10. The .Astronomy, AstroHackWeek, SPIE/NAM/AAS Hack Days, bring together a diverse

    community of astronomers, instrument scientists, software developers, data archivists, wranglers, educators, and science communicators.
  11. They typically have this effect on participants…

  12. Why? They provide a forum for discussing best practises in

    scientific computing and open data, for discovering the latest tech tools, sharing skills, and increasing digital literacy, They inspire.
  13. They provide a forum for discussing best practises in scientific

    computing and open data, for discovering the latest tech tools, sharing skills, and increasing digital literacy, They inspire. An opportunity for astronomers to create innovative research and outreach tools in a safe and collaborative environment. Why?
  14. What actually happens? Formal talks | Unconference sessions | Tutorials

    | Hacking
  15. Software & data publishing: DOIs –> AAS policy Collaborative coding

    & source control Astropy & the open-source revolution Hacking the literature Astronomy in the petascale data era: databases & advanced visualisation Django & Flask web-application frameworks Blogs, websites, hosting & domain names HTML, CSS & Javascript Webscraping & using/writing APIs Sonification of Kepler, IFU, & other multi-wavelength datasets Interactive data visualisation with D3js (javascript) & Glue (python) Visual storytelling & other media hacks TwitterBots: e.g. Zoonibot, AstroGoldStars Data Mining: machine learning, astrostatistics etc.
  16. At some point magic happens

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  19. Discovering new tools & learning the lingo Combining tools to

    build something entirely new A better sense of what can be achieved in a short amount of time Lean and agile principles A better appreciation of what is needed to make a robust final product Learn how languages and applications fit together Complexities of software development
  20. Building a tech savvy community in Australia has its challenges

    tech aware?
  21. Benefits • Retention of expertise that would otherwise move to

    industry • Sustainability of NCRIS funded projects - perhaps? • Increased collaboration between astronomers, instrument scientists, software developers, and ASVO project staff. • Breaking down barriers between communities • A pool of blue-sky tool builders able to contribute to projects • Innovative research tools: inc. data mining, statistics & visualisation tools • Non-traditional research outputs - increasing impact? • A network of astronomers and data scientists within academia and industry • Tech savvy mentors for PhDs and researchers at all levels • Opportunities for industry engagement and potentially, funding • The ability to better equip researchers for alternative careers • Start-ups? Consultancies?
  22. How? • Alternative career paths for tool builders and data

    wranglers: dual positions? e.g. software development / teaching / research • Workshops and events that bring together astronomers, instrument scientists, software developers, hackers and science communicators • ADASS or ASVO Hack Day – tools and/or early release datasets? • Developing new research training and strategies that focus on best practises in scientific computing, tech tools, & HPC • New coding in STEM initiatives: “debugging the gender gap” • Engaging with “innovation precincts” and “incubators” • Engaging with tech companies and emerging space industries: Atlassian? AWS? Google? Delta-V? Quberider? Saber? and other space research organisations
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  27. techsavvyastronomer.io ! @astrotechtools " www.arnakarick.com ! @drarnakarick # http:/ /github.com/drarnakarick

    Generously supported by the ASA and the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing