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Thomas Robitaille

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Thomas Robitaille

Thomas Robitaille

SSI fellow

Freelance Scientific Software Developer


My main interests are developing open-source scientific software and building vibrant communities around open-source projects. I want to find new ways to attribute proper credit to people who develop scientific software, and also work on making these projects become more sustainable.

My work

I am currently a freelance scientific software developer. However, this is a recent development: until the end of 2015, I was an astrophysicist, and I worked mainly on studying the formation of stars and on radiative transfer. During my time as a researcher, I learned Python and became involved in a number of open-source scientific software projects. In particular, I actively participated in efforts to build Python tools for astronomy and encourage astronomers to learn Python. I became one of the coordinators and lead developers for the Astropy project. I eventually decided that I wanted to work on scientific software development full time, and made the jump to work as a freelance developer. My main project currently is to lead the development for the Glue package, which is an interactive Python package for data exploration and visualization. In addition to Glue and Astropy, I maintain quite a few smaller Python packages – many of which you can find through my GitHub profile. I am also the scientific editor for software papers for the journals of the American Astronomical Society, and I co-wrote a new policy for the journals which explicitly encourages the publication of short papers describing software. One of the best ways to ensure a sustainable future for existing open source projects is to train more users to become contributors, as well as make sure that we put aside dedicated time for making significant progress in certain projects. As an SSI fellow, I plan to organize training workshops and developer sprints for the projects I am involved in. In particular, I am interested in organizing global hack/sprint events, where people travel to a number of locations in different countries to work with a few other people locally and connect up with other teams remotely.

Online Presence

My homepage

My blog

Follow me @astrofrog


Check out contributions by and mentions of Thomas Robitaille on www.software.ac.uk