The long-term goal of this site is to help two large groups of people: 1) Students in a classroom at a college or university; and 2) Free-range learners, or folks who aren’t taking a formal class and are interested in learning online on their own time. We are starting with the classroom students and then attempting to build on the material generated to make it maximally useful to the broader audience of biologists who want to learn how to use programming and database management systems. We are interested in helping folks who are complete beginners and those who already have some programming background.

To encourage folks to use this material all of general material on this site is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License and all programs are licensed under the MIT License.

Examples of folks who we are trying to help:

Allen: An undergraduate student in a biology related field who either realizes that computers are going to be important in whatever area of biology he ends up working or likes computers and thinks learning about them be more fun than the other available electives. He has never programmed before and doesn’t really know what a database is.

Jenny: A graduate student with a background in doing hands on biology either in the lab or the field. Now that she’s in graduate school she’s realized that managing the data she’s collecting in a reasonable way is going to be important (working with the hodge podge of poorly structured spreadsheets that her lab uses is awful), and doing all of the analysis that she needs to conduct for her dissertation seems like it would be a lot easier if it could be automated.

Jason: A graduate student or postdoc with a self-taught programming background. A lot of his research involves programming and he advises all of his lab mates on computer related things, but he’d like to know more about how to do things well. Besides, having an opportunity to interact with other folks who really value computers is really appealing.

Lisa: A graduate student or postdoc who took a couple of computer science classes in college. She has done some object oriented programming and published a couple of programs that people use, but she’s starting to realize that compared to real professionals she has no idea what she’s doing. She doesn’t use tools like version control, automated testing, and debuggers. She realizes that now is the time to learn these skills before she is too busy as a new faculty member.

Paul: A faculty member with little computer background who realizes that computing has become so central to his area of research that he needs to at least have a rough idea of how his students are work the magic they do for projects with a lot of programming. Even better he’d like to get to the point where he can really engage and help out.