2020-05-19 through present.
In July 2020 we published a paper in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science: "The XyloTron: Flexible, Open-Source, Image-Based Macroscopic Field Identification of Wood Products". This paper reports the invention of the XyloScope, an open-source handheld imaging system for identifying wood products. I spent over a year collaborating with coauthors on this project. My role was to design and construct the specialty illumination system contained within the imaging system, including options for white light or UV illumination. This is my first time authoring a paper in my instrumentation technologist role. See also the post on the shops website.
In January 2021 I participated in safety orientation (Chem. 607) for new Graduate Students. I created a presentation and narrated it, producing a video for Students to consume asynchronously (due to COVID). I also uploaded a copy of this presentation to the shops website so that it may serve as an ongoing training resource.
In late 2020 the shops were able to hire new undergraduate assistants. I decided to try and shoot for higher-quality, more independent assistants. I carefully wrote the job description to highlight the learning opportunities the undergraduates would have in this role. I advertised the position widely, and received more than 25 applications---much more than previous years. Importantly, we received many applications from students in engineering disciplines. I designed and carried out an interview process, ultimately hiring two fantastic student assistants. Working with Steve, I set up an organized system for planning out student jobs. I'm proud to say that these new assistants are significantly more independent and useful.
In late 2020, I felt that renovation had proceeded enough to accommodate our planned-for appliance repair position. Ultimately, this process involved coordination between myself, the Shops Committee Chair Tim Bertram, and the Research Chair Gil Nathanson. Together we were able to convince the Department Executive Committee that this position needed to be filled. In January 2021 the college essential staffing committee approved the position.
In March 2021 started a mailing list called "shoptalk" to engage with department community about shop issues. More than 30 people immediately subscribed to the mailing list and it was a productive place to keep everyone informed.
Over the week of July 6th I virtually attended SciPy 2020, the scientific Python conference. At this conference I attended several tutorials and talks, learning about new projects and technologies in the scientific Python ecosystem. I lead a session at the conference: Driving Hardware for Instrumentation, which can now be watched on YouTube. Perhaps more importantly, I was able to network with a number of industry and academic professionals who I now keep in touch with professionally.
In September I completed "Principles of Supervision and Management". The course was very involved. I learned about UW-Madison policies and procedures and general management strategies. I took this course entirely remotely due to quarantine procedures. This course was taken to prepare for managing the new appliance repair technician position.
In February 2021 I appeared as a guest on the Podcast of the The US Research Software Engineer Association. I was interviewed to provide a my perspective on the intersection between traditional research "shops" and emerging research software engineer positions. This podcast is avaliable for anyone to listen to.