Fellow Feature: Katharina Waury

19 Jan 2024 - 5 min

Every year, the Netherlands eScience Center shares a call for applications for our Fellowship Programme. The Programme is aimed at members of the academic research community who are passionate about acting as ambassadors for the use of research software. It is for individuals who have the ambition to promote or improve the use of research software within their organization or discipline. Our 2023 fellows are currently halfway through their fellowship year. What better time to showcase their progress over the course of their programme. 

We will present you with interviews with each of 14 Fellows. From creating tutorials to organizing interactive seminars, our Fellows are at the forefront of shaping the landscape of research software practices.

This is our second interview where you will read about Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam PhD student Katharina Waury’s experience in handling a project “Bioinformatics software to accelerate biomarker assay development” at the Netherlands eScience Center.

Q: Could you tell me what role research software plays in your daily activities?

A: As a bioinformatician, I rely on research software to learn more about and better understand specific proteins. Publicly available databases and prediction tools make it easier to organize and understand all of the information at hand compared to just reading scientific papers. It is also important to create visuals to show my results or the characteristics of proteins, making it easier to share my work with others.

Q: What initially inspired you to apply to the fellowship programme at the Netherlands eScience Center?

A: During my PhD, I became driven to improve the use of bioinformatics research software, especially among those who are not experts in bioinformatics, as I am part of an interdisciplinary consortium of both bioinformatics tool developers and the people who are intended to use these tools. Therefore, my supervisor suggested this fellowship opportunity to me, and I find that its goals closely match the motivation behind my PhD project. 

Q: How is the eScience Center fellowship helping you to promote the use of research software in your own community?

A: My fellowship encourages me not only to create new research software but also actively share it and put focus on making it as easy to use as possible. I organized a workshop introducing researchers to existing software that can benefit their work. 

Q: What have you enjoyed, thus far, during your fellowship at the eScience Center?

A: Being part of this fellowship makes me feel connected to a diverse community of Fellows, each working in different fields but sharing a common goal to enhance the use of research software. Also, personal mentorship and regular meetings help me stay focused on achieving what I set out to do during this fellowship. Lastly, the fellow activities are a lot of fun to join.

Q: What are some challenges that you have faced throughout your project, thus far? How have you overcome these obstacles?

A: Organizing a workshop on bioinformatics tools was a new task for me and involved much more time than anticipated, but it was definitely a great learning experience. A general challenge is to make enough time for the fellowship activities during the PhD. While the time I put in feels valuable, it also feels like the priority for a PhD student should be novel research. However, I hope that the value of the tasks supported by the fellowship will continue to be recognized more and more.

Q: Keeping this project in mind, what do you hope to do after your fellowship?

A: I would love to continue working on bioinformatics software development, especially to support non-experts in understanding their data or hypotheses. Thus, I am sure that focusing on aspects such as dissemination and proper software development during the fellowship will be valuable for my future career. 

Q: What do you hope will change in the use of research software in your community after your fellowship?

A: I hope to convince non-bioinformaticians to incorporate more bioinformatics tools into their work and thus help expand the user community. I also hope wet lab researchers will become more involved in providing feedback to the software developers to continuously improve the tools that are available.

Who are we? 

The eScience Center is a research organization dedicated to applying research software to answer research questions in any scientific domain through project collaborations. It has the largest concentration of dedicated, high-level research software expertise in the Netherlands. The eScience Center also has a fellowship programme and makes all of its software and training materials openly available online. For more information about what we offer, visit esciencecenter.nl.