In July of 2018, I found myself at a Mexican restaurant in South Lake Union, sitting across the booth from a friend-of-a-friend and future colleague, Kate Hertweck. I hadn’t yet started at Fred Hutch, and Kate had only been there a few weeks, but we both agreed we were going to bring positive change to the organization.
Over the first few months of our employment at Fred Hutch, we shared information, tagged along to meetings, and compared our findings about the culture of the Hutch. We shared philosophies about the importance of community, the value of training, and the promise of open science. Kate (with a PhD in plant genomics) and I (PhD in biological oceanography) were able to take a fresh look at the existing research practices among our community, and identify areas where dedicated work could yield big rewards for the rate and novelty of research. This shared vision for leveraging the expertise and enthusiasm led us to create the Fred Hutch Bioinformatics and Data Science Cooperative, or The Coop.
We created The Coop with the intention of supplementing existing groups at the Hutch. Our goal was to build a community around data-intensive efforts where everyone was encouraged to participate, irrespective of position, level of expertise, or area of research. As a part of my previous work supporting the Moore Foundation’s Data-Driven Discovery Initiative, I had seen these types of connections result in better research and new collaborations at other organizations, and was optimistic that the timing was right for the Hutch community.
In the 14 months since The Coop was launched, we have made great strides towards supporting data-intensive research at the Hutch. Our successes can be attributed it part to support from leadership that resulted in dedicated space (Coop Lab), and budget for events, seminars, and trainings. In October, we consolidated the Coop and fredhutch.io, the Hutch computational training program, under a single organization to simplify operations. We also have some rockstar community members and amazing, dedicated staff (thanks Justin, Thomas, and Anders!).
As we enter 2020, Kate and I are excited about the possibilities for growing the Coop community. We also want to reflect on our successes from the previous 14 months, so here are some stats for your consideration:
- The Coop has hosted more than 20 events, including guest speakers, community meetings, panels, trainings, social hours, and interest groups.
- The Coop Launch (Oct 2018) and Coop Anniversary Party (Nov 2019) both had more than 100 attendees.
- Our monthly newsletter has 330 subscribers (email coophelp at fredhutch.org to subscribe!)
- The Coop facilitates hosting of 6-10 standing events weekly, including office hours, courses, and interest groups
- The Coop Slack channel has 320 members, ~120 of which are active on a weekly basis
- fredhutch.io has taught more than 300 people in 24 different sessions. fredhutch.io has also hosted two Carpentries bootcamps.