Gaël Varoquaux

Mon 05 May 2008

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Update on my life

I am currently changing jobs and changing countries. This is why I have been really bad at dealing with questions on the mailing-lists, bug-reports or feature requests.

Before

So far I have been working as a physicist, doing atomic physics (Bose Einstein Condensation). I studied quantum physics, mostly theory, and I did a PhD in an experimental lab, building a couple of experiments on Bose Einstein Condensation and atom interferometry. After this, I moved to Florence to do a post-doc also on a BEC experiment.

A colleague working on the experiment in Florence

This kind of work is very experimental. These experiments are monsters that you have to keep alive doing a lot of homemade mechanics, optics, and electronics. I thought I would love that, because I used to like working with my hands, but I grew tired of it. I wanted to work more with abstractions. And in addition I am computer geek, the parts of my job I preferred were related to computers.

This summer

My contract has ended at the end of April, and I have not renewed it. I was missing my girlfriend and wanted to come back to Paris. So now I am jobless, living at the expense of my girlfriend. I decided to take some time without a job, as I have the feeling I have been working without stopping for the last few years, not having time to travel and visit the world as I like to. We are planning a three weeks trip to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in two weeks.

After this i am going to devote my summer to hacking. The big news is that I am going to be going to the states. I will spend most of my time in Austin, working for Enthought. I am very excited about this, as I see this as the occasion to learn more about building scientific GUIs with Python. Building usable scientific programs is something that I am passionate about. I will also spend some time at Berkeley, with Fernando Perez, hopefully to work on Ipython1. I need to thank Enthought for making this possible for me, as they are providing the money. With some luck, this summer I will be productive on the free software side.

Of course right now I am battling with moving houses, fighting for visas, trying to fall back on my feet and organize the summer. I still don’t have my visa for the states, and it is making me nervous. I would really hate to have to cancel my trip to Kyrgyzstan because of visa problems with the states: I take time off work, I expect to spend it enjoying myself, and not waiting for visas.

The future

So I am quitting atomic physics. I am starting a new adventure in something totally new for me. Starting from October, I will be working with JB Poline and Bertrand Thirion, at Neurospin, on neuroimaging. This work is mostly data processing, even though it has a lot of interplay with the physics of NMR. This is something very new for me and I will have to discover a new field. The good news is that a lot of the work is centered on computers, and one of the core technologies used at Neurospin is Python.

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