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Virginia Scarlett

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As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, I majored in molecular environmental biology because I wanted to use science to help fight climate change. My undergraduate research at the USDA Plant Gene Expression Center focused on the genetic underpinnings of plant circadian rhythms. After receiving my B.S., I worked for two years at the Joint BioEnergy Institute, where I studied plant glycolipids. Then, I returned to UCB for my doctoral research in plant genomics.

As a PhD student, I developed important self-management skills, but I also struggled to stay organized. I felt mired in messy scripts and files. Learning new tools was hard, but choosing to the right tools was even harder. I didn't know what to do with publicly available data, and I didn't know the best way to share my own. It occurred to me that perhaps complex social challenges like climate change depend not only on greater scientific knowledge, but also on more joyful ways of working.

Scientists have a lot of great ideas for more sensible ways of doing science, and as an open data specialist, I strive to make those ideas a reality. Currently, I am helping to develop Janelia's strategies for both internal data management and external data sharing. I'm thinking about how we can best develop our data models, connect our data platforms, and help Janelia's scientists get the most out of our technical infrastructure. I want to make it easier for scientists to keep their data tidy, and easier for the public to find rich datasets. Because if there's one future worth investing in, it's a future that makes it easier to do science we feel good about.