Alegria Aclan - Software developer

Alegria Aclan - Software developer

As a software developer in the Human Cell Atlas (HCA) team, Alegria works on building the ‘ingest’ infrastructure for the project’s data submission platform.

Q&A with Alegria Aclan

"When you are working in this area, it’s not just the computer and technology aspect, you also get to learn the world of the individuals using the software."

Q: What is your job at EMBL-EBI?

I am a software developer. I am a full stack engineer in the Human Cell Atlas (HCA) team and we are building the ‘ingest’ infrastructure which is the platform collaborators will use to submit data to HCA. It’s not finished yet (May 2019) and still in an early phase. We already have some data and the current infrastructure has a lot of improvements that need to made. Currently we’re working hard on making it reliable and scalable, it’s an exciting challenge!

Q: What is your professional background?

I have a Bachelors in Computer Science which I studied for in the Philippines. After that I went straight to industry and worked as a software engineer. My first job was in a financial software company, working on identifiers for financial data. Again I worked on a submission system, processing data to be stored in the company’s database. Most of my work is now related to that first job experience. I have also worked in front-end development and accounting software.

I don’t have any biology background, so I was quite nervous when I first applied for the job at EBI!

Q: What is the most important thing about your work at EMBL-EBI?

We are expecting a huge amount of data to come into the HCA. We want to have a nice application for submitters to use and through which to submit their data. The application should be easy to navigate and we need to address how we are going to encourage users to submit their data to our particular platform.

Currently we have internal submitters who are using the system. They coordinate with us to help develop a good data ingest system which will eventually be made public.

Q: What’s your favourite thing about working here?

Before I worked for EBI I was working for corporations - which kind of felt like I was just making rich people richer! I enjoy what I do here, I feel like I am doing something for science. When I was working for corporations I was developing systems using technologies which were only internal and relevant to those companies, now I get to work with open source technologies and it’s a very broad community of software engineers, which is very nice.

The people here are very diverse and very welcoming. In my team everyone is very friendly and approachable, if anyone on the team has a question we really try to help out and support one another. It’s great getting to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds, plus I get to learn a bit of biology!

When you are working in this area, it’s not just the computer and technology aspect, you also get to learn the world of the individuals using the software. It’s really cool and it’s one of the things I really love about the job.  

Q: Where do you do your best thinking?

When I have my noise cancelling headset on and no one's talking! Usually I arrive at work a little later than the rest of the team and stay a bit later, during that time there are no people in the office. So that short period when I am waiting for the bus and no one is around is probably when I do my best thinking.

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