The latest person to feature in our Meet the Team series is Hannah Sewell, who joined IN-PART as a Senior Software Developer in 2019. In this Q&A, Hannah talks about her move from lab-based science to tech, what her role involves, and what she enjoys doing in her downtime.
What’s your scientific specialism?
Before I was a software developer I was a biologist. I started off thinking I’d study animal genetics and did a brief stint working for a pig breeding company before I realised I didn’t enjoy working with animals so much and that I’d try working with plants instead and do a PhD.
During my PhD, I studied how plants respond to different carbon dioxide levels and the different genes that are expressed in high carbon dioxide environments that result in some plants becoming more water-use efficient than others.
I started off doing plant physiology and some plant molecular biology work then ended up doing bioinformatics in Python and R. I often say I learned to code because a genome won’t open in Excel! I did find my PhD enjoyable, but by the end of it, I decided I’d rather just do the computer work rather than dealing with plants and went into software development instead.
What does your work at IN-PART involve?
As part of the development team, I help to build the software to make the interactions between our company users, our team and our university clients as smooth as possible. I’ve helped to build both of the user/client interfaces of the matchmaking and their back-ends. We’re also responsible for maintaining our existing apps and fixing any bugs that are found in them, as well as building shiny new apps for new products and product enhancements.
Which aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
It’s always great to see something you’ve helped build put live for our users. I especially enjoy knowing that the work I do is going towards helping university-industry collaborations – especially thinking about the time I spent in academia helping to do research that I always hoped would lead to something useful.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
To relax outside of work I do Thai boxing twice a week and play squash whenever I can get a game. I also teach coding in my spare time as part of the various women in tech initiatives that take place in Sheffield, like Tech Set Go or at The Developer Academy. I also enjoy travelling whenever I can.
Do you have any advice for other women interested in moving into tech?
Don’t let the male predominance in the industry put you off from thinking it could be the job for you. There are many fantastic, and often free, courses that give women an introduction to coding such as Code First Girls, Django Girls, Node Girls, and Codebar to take full advantage of!
There are also lots of fantastic women-in-tech communities and networks who are full of people happy to give advice and support to women trying to get into the tech industry and those already established in the sector. Locally, the Sheffield Women in Tech group is very friendly! While there can be sexism in this line of work, I’ve found it in a decreasing minority.
Any final words of wisdom?
Don’t let what you did for a job before stop you from trying to do something different in the future.
IN-PART is an online matchmaking platform that simplifies the initial connection between teams in academia and industry to get breakthroughs out of the lab and onto the market.
Launched in 2014, we now work with over 230 universities and research institutes worldwide, strategically matching promising academic research to relevant R&D professionals from a network of 5,500+ innovation-driven companies.
Read more of our Meet the Team series:
- Meet the Team Q&A: Charlotte Atherton, Senior Research Officer
- Meet the Team Q&A: Leah Nolan, University Liaison Officer
Copyrights reserved unless otherwise agreed , IN-PART Publishing Ltd. 2019. – ‘Meet the Team Q&A: Hannah Sewell, Senior Software Developer’