“My official title is Bioinformatics Trainer, but training is only a part of my responsibilities. I also help develop and test new bioinformatics tools, which gives me a chance to collaborate with bioinformatics leaders like William Pearson (FASTA) and Des Higgins (Clustal). In addition, I help run the EMBL-EBI helpdesk and am called upon to contribute content to our many websites.” Andrew Cowley, Bioinformatics Trainer in the Web Production team
Q&A with Andrew Cowley, Bioinformatics Trainer
What attracted you to this role?
I’d already had a successful internship at EMBL-EBI as part of my Masters degree, and I knew that I’d like to return one day. I used EMBL-EBI resources in my training and support quite often, so when I saw the job advert in New Scientist I jumped at the chance to apply!
What was your background before joining EMBL-EBI?
I studied Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge and went on to complete a Masters in Bioinformatics at the University of York. I stayed there on a PhD studentship, investigating features of protein structures, and eventually took a job providing training and bioinformatics support for BBSRC research institutes.
What are some of the more interesting aspects of your role?
It's great to have such a bridging role: I train people around the world about bioinformatics on different levels, listen to users about their bioinformatics struggles and what new features they need, and liaise with the people developing the tools to ensure that our users’ needs are being met.
What is it like working at EMBL-EBI?
What made me want to return after my internship the most was how collaborative the EBI is, the way people with different skills work so well together. The informal, friendly atmosphere on campus really encourages you to ask people for their opinions and to share ideas. Even with so much to do, there's always an opportunity explore other projects. The campus itself is lovely, of course, and it’s nice to go for a walk around the lake on a beautiful day!
Tips for new applicants?
You'll definitely get the most out of EMBL-EBI if you're flexible and good at working with other people - brush up on your communication skills!