My Journey at the nf-core Hackathon and Nextflow Summit 2023: Coding and Community

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. Raquel Manzano Garcia, a PhD researcher at the University of Cambridge, was awarded an OBF Event Fellowship to attend the Nextflow Summit 2023 .

This October, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Nextflow Summit 2023 in Barcelona, thanks to the support of a generous travel grant from the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF) and my supervisor Prof. Carlos Caldas. The eent wasn’t just a conference; it was a confluence of ideas, coding, and camaraderie, set against the vibrant backdrop of one of Spain’s most iconic cities.

One of the most memorable aspects for me was the transition from digital interactions to real, meaningful connections. Meeting individuals I had previously only connected with online, such as my nf-core mentor, Maxime Garcia, was an incredible experience. The chance to collaborate in person, beyond the confines of a shared screen, was both enriching and inspiring. It brought a fresh and exciting dimension to our ongoing work.

The hackathon wasn’t just about coding; it was about building connections. I found myself surrounded by beautiful minds. The experience of learning new tricks and tips in such a collaborative setting has prompted me to reflect on my career trajectory, reaffirming my desire to thrive in similar environments. I am immensely thankful for the individuals I encountered – their patience, kindness, and enjoyable approach to addressing every question, discussion or concern were truly remarkable. Among them were professionals from my own area, with whom I’ve not only reconnected since the event but also started making plans for potential collaborations. 

Additionally, I got the opportunity to meet Geraldine Van der Auwera, someone whose work I’ve followed and admired for quite some time.   Her work has always amazed me, and meeting her in person was another highlight. This experience was enriched when I was invited to do an interview for the Nextflow podcast channel, an unexpected but thrilling event as it was a first for both of us. 

I also had the chance to present my work at the Nextflow Summit in a talk. The interaction with the audience during my presentation reinforced the sense of collaboration and community, making it clear that my coding efforts were part of a larger, shared journey.  It’s these moments of exchange and learning that represent the spirit of the Nextflow Summit.

Left: hackathon buzz; right: me presenting my talk at the Nextflow summit
Raquel’s presentation at the Nextflow Summit.

But it wasn’t all work! The summit ensured our schedules were packed with fascinating talks and social events. Making paella, going for runs, and attending a fancy party at the Barcelona port with Seqera’s new sponsored team were just a few highlights. These experiences were fun and engaging, truly enjoyable events. Plus Barcelona, with its incredible beauty, was the perfect host. A walk – and a run – along the beach was a nostalgic reminder of my coastal hometown (Cadiz, Spain), bringing a piece of my heart into this global gathering.

Top: Morning run along the beach; bottom left Shoko dinner party; bottom right: Social event in La Patente – cooking traditional paella.

In conclusion, the nf-core Hackathon and Nextflow Summit 2023 were more than just gatherings; they were vibrant showcases of innovation, collaboration, and diverse cultures. With the support of the OBF travel grant and my supervisor, I’ve come back not only re-energized about my work but also enriched with valuable new professional connections.

Participants at the nf-core hackathon

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