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Bastian Greshake – “At least no one is seriously using MatLab”

The latest Open Science Stars interview couldn’t be better timed, as I’m sitting here with the interviewee, Bastian Greshake at OpenCon in Washington DC! Let’s get right to it!

Hi Bastian, and thanks for joining us here! Could you start off by letting us know a little bit about your background?

Sure! Right now I’m working on my PhD in bioinformatics at the University of Frankfurt, the city in the middle of Germany that is famous for having a more or less working airport. Before I transferred into being an armchair/standing desk biologist I did a Master’s degree in Ecology & Evolution. Much of my, maybe let’s say “traditional”, research is about how evolution has shaped the genomes of the funny living things around us. And then there’s the whole open* shebang, which we’ll probably talk about later.

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When did you first hear about open access/data/science? What were your initial thoughts?

I’m not really sure whether it was before or during my undergrad studies. I was certainly experimenting with open source software since I was 15 or so. For the open access-part I at least vividly remember one of the computational biology nerds sporting an open access-shirt, so I guess that way of advertising works. In any case, in my naivety I was puzzled and shocked that open science and science aren’t the same thing yet (c.f. this), as I would have assumed that academics would be progressive, being on the frontier of knowledge and all (boy, was I wrong!).

What is the state of ‘open science’ in the field of bioinformatics? Do you think it’s progressing faster or more frustratingly slower than other fields?

Bioinformatics is a pretty huge field, so I don’t really dare to speak for all of it. But at least for the part that I’m meddling in I think we’re doing a pretty good job open science-wise. Much of the data people generate is ending up in open repositories, virtually everything is programmed in open source programming languages and much of the written code ends up being open sourced as well. And there are some decent open access journals, with pre-prints becoming more and more accepted as well. Of course, it’s not perfect yet. Many people still seem to have a hard time to resist the siren song of Nature/Science publications and unfortunately it’s also the case that people still use and publish closed source and commercial software for their analysis. But hey, at least no one is seriously using Matlab.

Many people still seem to have a hard time to resist the siren song of Nature/Science

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