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Currently, I’m a Scientific Web Applications Developer, with Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. working at the Advanced Biomedical Computing Center (ABCC) at Ft. Detrick. The center provides scientific computing, modeling, imaging, and bioinformatics support.

At this point in my career, I’ve completely morphed into a full-stack web developer… (backend, front-end, server administration, and everything in between).

I’m developing and designing websites and web applications for the National Cancer Institute, which is the primary customer of Leidos Biomedical. The job entails working on problems quite complex in nature, with extensive requirements analysis, application development, user interface design, testing, verification, and maintenance. I normally receive little to no in-depth instructions for the work, just general instructions on new assignments. We generally work independently with minimum supervision, but regularly coordinate and collaborate with one another, helping one another work through complex technical situations.

Before that, I spent 6 years at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, working for Science Systems and Applications, Inc. and then – when the contract changed – the Sigma Space Corporation. During that time, I supported NASA’s Earth Observatory team and NASA’s Atmospheric Sciences and Hydrospheric and Biospheric Research Laboratories.

When I came onboard in 2003, I proceeded to build the first custom content management system and redesigned the public-facing websites for NASA’s Atmospheric Science Research Portal and Hydrospheric and Biospheric Science Research Portal. This was before Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla were a thing. Each Laboratory had their main sections, but also had multiple Branches, which required mini “sub-sites” to be built into the mix. Before that, they were basically running websites from ad-hoc servers residing under scientist’s desks.

Halfway through my time at NASA, I got the opportunity to help out the Earth Observatory team with the redesign of their website. The Earth Observatory website is an online publication which shares images, stories, and discoveries about climate and the environment that emerge from NASA’s research, including its satellite missions, in-the-field research, and climate models.

At that point, the Earth Observatory was around for nearly 10 years with little to no updates to their infrastructure and overall design.

So, I proceeded to program the Earth Observatory website from scratch. This process took roughly a year to accomplish, with version 2.0 launching in 2009. The work entailed writing multiple PERL scripts to ingest 10 years of website data into a redesigned database schema and file system. I also developed a highly customized content management system to serve the needs of the Earth Observatory staff (writers and data visualizers). I was also the systems administrator for the server cluster, and configured it for high availability and redundancy.

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