2018 Summer Internship Reports: Nayman Leung

Each year, our Workforce Development team offers summer internships for students interested in developing their gateway development skills. Eligible participants are placed at one of several SGCI partner sites. We will be sharing some of the experiences of our 2018 student interns in a series of blog posts entitled SGCI Summer Internship Reports.

Featured below is SGCI summer intern Nayman Leung, a rising sophomore at the University of Illinois.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, including what you are studying.

I am a rising sophomore studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois. My career interests include embedded system applications, microcontrollers, FPGA design, and Integrated Circuits Design.

I enjoy listening to different eras of jazz (big band, cool jazz, hard bop, fusion) as much as I can. Other hobbies include playing outdoor pickup basketball and frisbee when the weather permits.

Where did your internship take place, and who did you work with?

I worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Center for Neutron Research Lab in Gaithersburg, Maryland. My principal investigators are Professor Emre Brookes at the University of Texas Health Science Center Department of Biochemistry and Dr. Joseph Curtis at the NIST site.

What are some things that you learned as a result of this internship?

This summer, I helped develop an open source user interface built on a scientific gateway, GenApp, primarily for improving interaction with protein data files so that they can be compatible with simulation programs. While I certainly gleaned valuable software engineering skills such as high-level design, effective abstraction, version control, transparent documentation, and other nuances exclusive to JavaScript and Python, I ultimately understood the function and potential of scientific gateways. For researchers who want to modify fields in their data files to customize a protein, it is cumbersome to meticulously search through the records, even with the help of some established programs available on the web. Thus, a programmer can step into abstract away the trivial details of the anatomy of the data file and instead present a fluid user interface to minimize effort on behalf of the researcher. At a minimum, the developed application allows customization of sub-sections in a potentially large chain of residues, but the most important functionality (still under development) streamlines a seamless workflow for assembling customized proteins after editing the individual data fields. Releasing the web application as an open source project on a scientific gateway platform was the first step towards building a flourishing community of researchers who can utilize the tool and provide feedback as well as developers who can continue contributing software.


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