Learning The Full Monty

monty-pythons-flying-circus

The Monty Python* that is and by Python I mean the programming language.

Coding was never something that I use to think would be a part of my life! How naive I was! I learnt to use R for statistics during my Masters course which I *surprise surprise* found quite fun (especially when it worked how I expected it to) then during my last year in Australia having a working knowledge of programming became very quickly and clearly a skill I knew I would require to be a successful and competent scientist in the future of marine and conservation science. Initially, I became familiar with MATLAB as it was the main programming language used by my department. However several conversations with a very talented coder and friend led me to Python; it is free, it has wide applicability, and it is growing in popularity as the go to language.

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Python is also meant to be an “easy” programming language to learn! Image: XKCD

So now I’m home in London and I decided that the one big skill I wanted to improve and become more confident in this year was my coding abilities. I knew I would like a structured course and not just self-led learning for code and luckily I came across Udemy having a sale on this course: Complete Python Bootcamp as well as a second course: Learning Python for Data Analysis and Visualization both heavily discounted (~£7 each) and decided to take the plunge. I mean a course for less than the price of two take-out coffees what’s not to like! They also both has good reviews!

I am 40% into the first course, doing one or two lectures a day during the week, and really enjoying it. I feel like I’m understanding concepts that before were both daunting and confusing as well as learning how to write neat annotated code. The first few sections were a good refresher of concepts that I already understood from mathematics or other programming languages I had come across, and now we are starting to get into the more meaty topics with writing your own Functions and soon creating Methods!!

I believe that at the end I will be a better prepared scientist and be able to contribute more to research in the future. Being able to code myself without the reliance on others will be both liberating and dare I say it exciting! I already feel an innate sense of pride at understanding concepts and applying learnt skills to different coding problems.

As I have been learning I was quite interested to come across this article on the BBC saying that in a blind test code written by women was preferred! Which is an interesting turn of events especially as traditionally it as been a rather male dominated domain (note: the study is awaiting peer-review). *FIST PUMP*. I recently came across PyLadies an “international mentorship group with a focus on helping more women become active participants and leaders in the Python open-source community” which I am very excited to explore and then was thrilled to see they have a London Meetup group which, I hope I can join for an event in the not too distant future!

So now here I am learning a new language and doing tasks with computers that I never thought would be part of my life and boy am I glad that I am. The sense of accomplishment when you can code is up there with one of the best feelings! There are lots of free resources out there to try including: codecademy, Coursera, Udemy, Learn Python The Hard Way, the Python website tutorials and even Google has a free introductory Python course!

Do you code? Which language is your preferred one? Any tips for the fledgling coder? Let me know in the comments below!

*Python is named after Monty Python’s Flying Circus and not the reptile!

You can also follow along on the Deep Blue Conversations Facebook Page. I post interesting articles related to marine conservation, share awesome stories as well as photos from the marine conservation and environmental world in general. Come on over and have a look! I also have Twitter come and join the conversation you can find me as @Leila_Lula!

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Crying is allowed.

I cry when I’m happy and I cry when I angry, I cry with laughter and I cry with frustration but this does but make me a weaker person or less good and what I do! When a woman cries though people freak out… why o’ why are women all hysterical, is she trying to get attention, is she not getting her own way and manipulating you. I’m here to tell you that this is in fact not the case I am not a hysterical women if bring salty tears with my emotions.

I was reading a post on Dynamic Ecology by Meghan Duffy entitled “There is crying in science. That’s okay” and it really resonated with me. After an emotional week of; missing my family and boyfriend, having some disappointing news and, being insulted about my surfboard mounting technique (after a frustrating hour trying to learn in some sloppy waves), I had cried or welled up a fair few times. For a second I worried that this could be seen as weakness but, I don’t feel weak when I cry I feel all the emotions I mentioned above but never weak or that I can’t go on.

If we’re going to have more women in science – and I hope we will – we’re going to have more crying in science”. one of Meghan Duffy from Dynamic Ecology’s mentors.

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Megan links to an article that includes the unique case of Ben Barres who transitioned from female to male and noticed that with the transition and his increase in testosterone he lost the ability to cry easily. So I am innately built to cry more as a woman and due to my lower levels of testosterone I can’t control the tears that flow sometimes. Therefore, if I ever cry in your office or on your shoulder remember that I am releasing my emotions (good and bad) about the current situation and my life. I am not trying to manipulate your feelings. I also hope that in years to come I remember this simple thing if I am lucky enough to have student who come to me for advice or questions and get emotional. I hope that I don’t think that they are trying to manipulate my feelings and opinions of them and remember I am lucky they feel comfortable in my presence.

So let there be crying in science and in the world. Whether you are woman or a man who is crying it does not matter and it is okay. Let those emotions out, allow the release of your feelings and just cry. It makes you human it allows you to be who you are and it is not a sign of weakness. Remember…Crying Is Allowed.


You can also follow along on the Deep Blue Conversations Facebook Page. I post interesting articles related to marine conservation, share awesome stories as well as photos from the marine conservation and environmental world in general. Come on over and have a look! I also have Twitter come and join the conversation you can find me as @Leila_Lula!