Winfred Gatua: Hybrid Carpentries workshop supported by OBF Event Fellowship

The Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF) Event Fellowship program aims to promote diverse participation at events promoting open-source bioinformatics software development and open science practices in the biological research community. Winfred Gatua, Doctor of Philosophy, Bristol Medical School, was awarded an OBF Event Fellowship to organize a Hybrid Carpentries workshop at Laikipia University, Kenya.

Hosting and facilitating a hybrid carpentries workshop in my home country is an excellent highlight for me. I am very grateful to have received the OBF Event Fellowship 2022.

Among my goals is mentorship and training of younger researchers in Kenya, especially those in remote Kenyan universities with no access to many resources; instead, being stuck in the traditional way of doing research, including contracting experts to do the data analysis for them; a costly ordeal. However, I wanted to change the narrative and open these scientists to the world view of data, how to make their research work reproducible, and shed insights into what is open science and collaborations. 

Despite spending my time as a volunteer instructor in institutions abroad, I have always wanted to host and run a carpentries-based workshop in some institutions in Kenya. However, the cost associated with running any workshop is immense; therefore, when I saw the call for an OBF event fellowship, this was a perfect opportunity for me to try it. 

Upon receiving an award email, I was excited and eager to carry on with the workshop to ensure that students know in advance bioinformatics, open science, and reproducible research before they leave their bachelor’s studies. 

With the assumption that since the pandemic, institutions have adapted to online teaching, I designed the training to be exclusively online while applying for funding. Upon assessing the resources available, I decided to adopt a hybrid workshop with a resident helper at the University helping the students. In contrast, other instructors/helpers of the workshop joined online and taught modules online.

While all participants were novices when we began the workshop, by the close, the participants were excited to explore careers in bioinformatics and data science, including access to advanced training. This workshop allowed my colleagues and me to share our broad knowledge of data science and inspire students to carry on with collaborative, open, and reproducible research in the future.

I want to thank the instructors and helpers who worked tirelessly with me through the five days of the workshop. I appreciate the Laikipia University administration’s support during the preparation and workshop. A big shout out to the OBF event fellowship for the award; without your support, the workshop would not have succeeded.

The next step includes applying for funding from other organizations to facilitate sharing of knowledge around data science and open and reproducible research practices in Kenya and Africa.

Below is a photo of the workshop in progress, a screenshot showing virtual participants, and a group photo at the end of the workshop.