David Twesigomwe: My BOSC 2021 Experience

The BOSC-OBF 2021 Event Support Fund was awarded to David Twesigomwe, a PhD student based at the Sydney Brenner Institute for Molecular Bioscience (SBIMB) – South Africa, to participate in BOSC 2021, an annual conference hosted by the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF). Based on the OBF Event Fellowship program, this fund aimed to facilitate participation of diverse researchers from historically underrepresented groups at BOSC to help wider awareness and adoption of open source bioinformatics practices in the biological research community. Find more information here.

Attending the Bioinformatics Open Source Conference (BOSC) has definitely been one of my highlights for 2021 so far. I am so grateful to have received a registration fellowship as part of the global initiative supported by the BOSC-OBF 2021 Event Support Fund. From the research point of view, nothing beats getting together (albeit virtually) to talk all things bioinformatics and open science with such a welcoming BOSC community as we continue adapting to new routines and work-life balance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Pre-BOSC

The first thing that stayed with me about BOSC 2021 was the detailed critique and useful comments we received from the reviewers of our abstract. As an up-and-coming bioinformatics scientist, it was wonderful to get such actionable feedback on our pipeline (StellarPGx), and suggestions on how we can promote open source contributions to the code. One of the reviewers even went the extra mile and submitted the very first issue in the GitHub repository 🙂 

Overview of the conference

BOSC 2021, which was one of the tracks of ISMB/ECCB 2021, was really exciting despite it being a virtual event – kudos to the organising team for putting the conference together aa nd navigating all the technical issues. In particular, I enjoyed the session on workflow management systems, which included a fascinating talk by Paolo di Tommaso on the evolution of Nextflow – the workflow management system of choice for a number of students and senior scientists at the SBIMB. I also enjoyed the session on analysis tools, where I got the opportunity to present StellarPGx, and I learned a great deal from the other sessions as research reproducibility was rightly championed to all the talks. 

Furthermore, it was quite exciting to round off the days with virtual round table and happy hour group meetings with incredible role models (Chris Fields, Nomi Harris, and Geraldine Van der Auwera to mention but a few).   

Welcoming community

Even though BOSC 2021 (the first BOSC for me) was held virtually, the warm welcome I received from the community – be it on the remarkably active Slack channel or in the round table meetings – was quite uplifting. Special mention to Nomi Harris and the entire organising team for dedicating a lot of time and effort in organising such an engaging conference.

Next steps

I am looking forward to incorporating the ideas and suggested open source best practices arising from BOSC 2021 in the next phase of development for StellarPGx. I will forever be grateful for being awarded the BOSC-OBF 2021 Event Support Fund which enabled me to attend and present at #BOSC2021. I hope to be an active member of the BOSC-OBF community for years to come and to volunteer in some of the upcoming OBF activities. 


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