Tag Archives: CS

Meet Francisca Catalan, SFSU PINC alum and research associate at UCSF (spotlight)

9 Jan
FranciscaCatalan

Francisca Catalan, SFSU PINC alum and research associate at UCSF

  1. How did you get into coding? 

I took a regular CS class my second year at SF state. I thought it would be a good skill to have as an aspiring researcher and saw that it fulfilled one of my major requirements. It was a PowerPoint-heavy 8 am class three times a week. I didn’t talk to anyone else in the class and by the end of the semester I found it very difficult to show up. I passed the class but was really devastated about my experience. I thought I could never learn to program, though I never gave up completely. A couple semesters went by and I saw a friendly flier announcing PINC, SFSU’s program that promotes inclusivity in computing for biologist and other non-computer science majors. I eagerly signed up and started the “Intro to Python” class soon after. Then, with some more programming under my belt, I joined Dr. Rohlfs’ lab and began doing research in the dry lab for the remainder of my undergraduate career.

  1. What kind of work do you do now? 

I currently work at UCSF as a dry lab research associate. Our lab focuses on an aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma. We try to find gene targets for new drug treatments and research the cell type of these cancerous cells in order to fight drug resistance. My main duties now include creating pipelines for our single cell, RNA-Seq, and Whole Genome Sequencing data. You can read about our lab’s latest study in our new publication on cancer discovery! DOI: 10.1158/2159-8290.

https://cancerdiscovery.aacrjournals.org/content/candisc/early/2019/09/25/2159-8290.CD-19-0329.full.pdf

  1. How did learning coding skills impact your career?

Coding has opened so many pathways for me. I was able to find a great job at UCSF soon after graduating with my Bachelor’s of Science in cell and molecular biology and minor in Computing Applications. It has also given be a giant boost of confidence! As a woman of color in STEM, I often felt underrepresented and out of place, but those feelings now quickly subside when I can help my colleagues answer coding questions! It’s motivating to feel like a necessary component of your community when often time you feel pushed out. It’s also impacted my career choices! I know now I want to be a professor in the future, I want to provide access to programming to others in hopes it will open pathways like it did for me!

  1. Do you have any advice for students who are just starting? 

Yes! Don’t give up! It can be really difficult to learn coding, but know that it’s not you, talking to a computer can just be hard sometimes! Continue practicing and ask questions, google your heart out. Take breaks when necessary, remember to breathe, and keep in mind all the amazing science you will be able to do once you have these skills under your belt!

Recursion in real life

7 Oct

This semester, I am teaching a new class: Intro To Programming. I try to find ways to explain stuff so that all of my students (and me) understand it. Recursion is complex, but it reminds me of trying to make lunch plans when several people are involved. And when a function calls itself, it’s like putting a conversation on hold. Recursion

Recursion is when three calls are put on hold before a lunch decision is made.

Asha would like to have lunch with Blake.

They call Blake.

They say: Hi Blake, would you like to go for lunch in the student center?

Blake says to Asha: That’s a cool idea, but I was hoping to meet with Cynthia today.

Let me put you on hold and call them.

They call Cynthia

They say: Hi Cynthia, would you like to go for lunch in the student center?

Cynthia says to Blake: That’s a cool idea, but I was hoping to meet with Danny today.

Let me put you on hold and call them.

They call Danny

They say: Hi Danny, would you like to go for lunch in the student center?

Danny says to Cynthia: That’s a cool idea, but I was hoping to meet with Emilia today.

Let me put you on hold and call them.

They call Emilia

They say: Hi Emilia, would you like to go for lunch in the student center?

Emilia says to Danny: Yes! I’ll meet you at the student center.

Emilia hangs up

Danny says to Cynthia: Yes! I’ll meet you at the student center.

Danny hangs up

Cynthia says to Blake: Yes! I’ll meet you at the student center.

Cynthia hangs up

Blake says to Asha: Yes! I’ll meet you at the student center.

Blake hangs up

Asha is happy. All phone calls are ended and our friends can go to lunch!

 

Jobs in physiology and CS at SFSU

16 Nov

There are two job searches that interest me this year on our campus. One in our department (Biology) for an animal physiologist (the committee already started looking at applications, so if you are interested, you need to be fast!). The link to the ad is here .

The second search is in the Computer Science Department, and the ad is here. They are looking for someone with a “background in the database area, but also in areas related to social networking and collaboration, mobile computing, cloud computing and/or human/computer interaction.”

Both jobs are open to candidates at the assistant or associate professor level.

SFSU is a great place to work. Here are all the reasons why I am happy to be at SFSU.

If you are interested in doing research, training an extremely diverse student body and living in San Francisco, you should apply! Shoot me an email if you have any questions (pennings at sfsu dot edu).