The interaction between science and computing goes back to the earliest days of information technology (IT), when the first digital computers were built in the 1940s to support scientific research. Likewise, some of the most far-reaching and visible applications of computing and communications--the Internet is probably the best example?began as tools to support advanced research. Next Wave's feature for September 2004 addresses the career implications of this interaction between science and software.

Working scientists consider powerful computing and communications tools a basic requirement for conducting research and getting it published. As a result, many researchers have become major users of IT in academic and commercial labs and sophisticated users of their own systems in the workplace and at home. These scientists may find that the world of software can offer ways to enhance one's scientific career or even provide a whole new career path.

With this in mind, Next Wave explores software as a career alternative for scientists, shows ways that software can offer scientists growth and development in their current careers, and highlights emerging software developments that will affect the conduct of science. Read contributions from scientists who have made the innovative use of software part and parcel of their research work, IT specialists who develop software tools for scientists, and former bench scientists now happily working in the software field.

Computer software consists of more than just code. Software must embody the larger purpose of the program and often reflects the culture that developed it. In this spirit, this feature will also offer a glimpse of work under way to improve the security of systems and networks, as well as discuss the open-source movement that is revolutionizing the way computer software is being developed. Finally, we have asked expert observers to bring you up-to-date on new developments in IT that will affect how research is conducted and published in the future.

Software as an Enhancement to Scientific Careers

Researching in Silico

Next Wave's Anne Forde ventures to the European Media Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany to hear what biological in silico research is all about, the opportunities for early career researchers and what kind of attributes are necessary to work in this sector.

Caught up in the Grid

Next Wave's Anne Forde collects insights from two early career scientists, Oxana Smirnova based in Sweden and Arto Teräs in Finland on what's going on in Grid technology, and the challenges and future opportunities they see.

Bioperl - Open Source Bioinformatics Tools

Jason Stajich , a PhD candidate at Duke University, is one of the core developers of Bioperl, an open-source tool set for bioinformatics. Staich describes Bioperl's genesis and how the community of Bioperl users contributes to it.

A Career in E-Science, With a Few Twists and Turns

Alvaro A. A. Fernandes combined an interest in science with a talent in information technology to fashion a career that took him on a three-continent journey into advanced applications of scientific computing. But his career was hardly a steady, elegant progression.

The ABC's of Bioinformatics

Karen Eilbeck talks about her career in bioinformatics and how the path she chose led to the field of biological ontologies. An ontology is a description of knowledge about a subject using a controlled vocabulary of terms and defined relationships between those terms.

From Science to a Career in Software

Seeing the Light

James Pond , a Ph.D. physics graduate from University of British Columbia shares his journey from graduation to starting up a small software company specializing in development of electromagnetic computation and simulation tools.

Bringing it All Together

Italian-born Gianni Antoniazzi tells us how his current project at Barcelona University is bringing together all the mathematics, programming, informatics, and control theory he studied in his academic career.

Bioinformatics in the Netherlands - Thriving and Exciting

Trained as a biologist, Tim Hulsen has chosen the informatics side of biology, which offers a lot of opportunities, so it appears. Two years into his PhD, Hulsen gives an overview of the job, funding and training opportunities in bioinformatics in the Netherlands.

Navigating by the Numbers

Next Wave's Andrew Fazekas talks to a leading expert in the research and development of software used in satellite navigation systems at the University of Calgary and a former graduate student now working in the global positioning satellite industry who offer valuable insights into the rewards and challenges of working in the field of geomatics.

Blending Biology and Bioinformatics

Berkeley's Mark Yandell describes how his career progressed to the point where he can combine the worlds of bench research and computer programming, and move from academics to industry and back.

New Developments in Software for Science

Grid Computing - Crossing the Chasm

For scientists planning a research career, grid computing offers the prospect of much more computing power in a collaborative environment at a small fraction of the cost than before. Surenda Reddy , who started a Grid computing software company, says learning more about grid computing can also provide important new insights and skills that can benefit scientists' careers.

Careers in Computer Science Research

Next Wave's Jim Austin talks to NSF's Gregory Andrews , who says the big story in computer science research in recent years is the decline of industrial research centers. But compared to other scientific fields, career opportunities in computer science remain strong.

Information Assurance Careers

Information assurance (IA) is the term for what used to be called information security. M.E. Kabay at University of Norwich says the demand for a cadre of professionals with information assurance expertise in various disciplines is outstripping the global capacity for producing credentialed graduates.

Navigating the 21st Century IT Marketplace

Next Wave's Clinton Parks talks to three professors in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department at Auburn University about preparing for the increasingly competitive and turbulent software marketplace. The giddy days of the dot-com era may be over, but opportunities still abound for innovative and well-trained software professionals.

Will the Semantic Web Change Science?

Tim Finin and Joel Sachs at University of Maryland - Baltimore County discuss the Semantic Web, a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries. They describe how the Semantic Web is changing the way research findings are published, shared, and retrieved, with examples of how scientists are beginning to make use of the Semantic Web in their work.

Evolving Career Options in the Changing World of Software

In an overview piece, Next Wave's Alan Kotok gives a background perspective on the software industry and how its dynamics have dramatically changed over the past decade. He describes a host of occupations in software and highlights the most promising career growth areas.

Alan Kotok is managing editor of Careers.