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People of SGCI: Andrew Magill

Andrew Magill

RESA III Python and Django Developer
Texas Advanced Computing Center

What is your role within SGCI and what do you do?

I am fairly new to SGCI, I am a few months into my first engagement providing Extended Developer Support (EDS) to clients at UC San Diego. Together we are building a new science gateway that will engage citizens, students, and scientists in an effort to make our towns, cities, and bioregions healthier for both the people and their environment.

How did you come to be a part of SGCI, and why were you intrigued by the opportunity?

I expressed an eagerness to my manager here at TACC to incorporate past work experience building web mapping applications in my current role, and it just so happened that SGCI had a client looking for assistance with a project that includes a large web mapping component. I have co-workers here who are engaged as EDS consultants, so it is not a new thing for TACC, but a new experience for me. I have been excited to work directly with researchers who are passionate and looking to build something that will provide an opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment and improve lives.

What is the most challenging part of your work for SGCI?

We’ve come up with a ton of great ideas for the site, and I think we are making good progress towards building components that we think will add the most value, but it can be difficult to leave ideas that you may be passionate about unrealized due to time constraints.

How else are you involved in the technology or gateway community?

I am a web developer in the Web and Mobile group at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), which is a high performance computing center at the University of Texas. TACC supports thousands of ongoing research projects in almost every scientific field imaginable. Although many of our users are comfortable queueing jobs and working in a Linux shell, we want to remove as many barriers as possible, so we are building science gateways, or portals as we tend to call them, to provide easier access. We have at least half a dozen of these projects in development at any given time; I am working on a couple of them, one is sponsored by the University of Texas System and targets researchers at other campuses who may be accustomed to working on small lab clusters. We’re hoping to win over new users with a nice interface and show the benefit of consolidating resources.

What do you most like to do in your free time?

I enjoy reading fiction and listening to audiobooks. I am currently reading a collection of short stories, Thunderstruck, by Elizabeth McCracken, and listening to Trevor Noah read his recent memoir. I am also completing a masters degree in computer science if that counts as free time.

If you were a superhero, what superpower would you have?

Stopping time would be awesome, but that’s a little crazy, so maybe just not needing sleep. Or perhaps only like one night a week. That would be super.