[Bioperl-l] Google Summer of Code: Call for Bio* Volunteers

Hilmar Lapp hlapp at gmx.net
Fri Feb 13 11:53:32 EST 2009

Google is committed to run the Summer of Code program [1] again this  
year. It will be for the 5th time.

In broad strokes, the program funds what you might call remote summer  
internships for students to contribute to an open-source software  
project. Participating projects (or umbrella organizations) provide  
project ideas and supply mentors that guide the work on those.  
Students apply to a project within the program with specific project  
ideas, based on those suggested or based on their own idea, get ranked  
by the mentors of the project, and those accepted into the program get  
paired up with mentors. Projects are chiefly about programming, the  
coding period is 3 months (Jun-Aug), and there is no travel required  
by either student or mentor. The program is global; other than the US  
trade restrictions that Google is under, there are no restrictions as  
to where student or mentor reside. The main motivations behind the  
program are to recruit new contributors to open-source projects, and  
to produce more open-source code. See the program FAQs [2] for more  

I've had the honor of being part of the program for the last two  
years, administering NESCent's participation as an organization [3]  
and in 2007 mentoring a student. I have to say I find it the most  
awesome open-source program since sliced bread (or the invention of  
BLAST if that means more to you). Despite that and sadly enough, there  
has been a dearth of participating bioinformatics projects (though  
some notable ones, such as CytoScape have participated).

There have been two Bio* Summer of Code projects under the NESCent  
umbrella, one in 2007 [4] and one in 2008 [5]. I would be willing to  
volunteer to take the lead on and administer a full-blown  
participation of O|B|F as a Bio* umbrella organization, provided 1) at  
least one Bio* person volunteers to serve as backup administrator, and  
2) enough Bio* contributors volunteer to serve as prospective mentors.

Mentoring involves participating in creating the page of project ideas  
(I'd provide template and guidance), corresponding with applicants who  
have questions, participating in student application ranking, and for  
primary mentors (those directly assigned to a student) based on  
empirical evidence at least 5hrs/week of time spent with the student  
to help him/her get over obstacles or avoid wrong paths.

I think almost all mentors would concur that the experience was very  
gratifying, but as a mentor you will be spending a non-negligible  
amount of time with the student. I think it is the student-mentor  
pairing and interaction, not the stipend, that in the end makes the  
participation for students uniquely productive in terms of learning,  
and different from simply contributing to the project of choice (which  
they could always do).

For a personal impression for how the program is from a mentor  
perspective, I'll let Chris Fields speak who was the mentor for the  
2008 phyloXML in BioPerl project. From a student's perspective, I'll  
leave it to the 2007 Biojava student Bohyun Lee (blee34-at- 
mail.gatech.edu) and the 2008 BioPerl student Mira Han (mirhan-at- 
indiana.edu) to comment (if they are still on the list).

So if you think this is a good idea for Bio* to be part of, if you  
would like to help in some way, if you can see yourself as a mentor,  
or if you are a lurking would-be student, please let yourself be  
heard. Email either to the list or to me.



[1] http://code.google.com/soc/2008

[2] http://code.google.com/opensource/gsoc/2009/faqs.html

[3] http://hackathon.nescent.org/Phyloinformatics_Summer_of_Code_2007

[4] http://biojava.org/wiki/BioJava:PhyloSOC07

[5] http://bioperl.org/wiki/PhyloXML_support_in_BioPerl
: Hilmar Lapp  -:-  Durham, NC  -:-  hlapp at gmx dot net :

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