CS Colloquium: Leah Wasser on If data is the new gold then is open source software the new diamond (in the rough)?

Abstract: A discussion about the open source tools that drive both research and often industry.

Data is the new gold in today’s world. The value of data is being leveraged across multiple platforms and applications including business, research and science. And as such skills needed to process and analyze this data are in high job market demand. Across the globe, millions of data scientists, computer scientists and also companies leverage free and open source tools to access and process data gold. If data is valued as gold, then open source tools are diamonds. And yet these tools, while valuable like diamonds to workflows as they are the backbone of academic science and industry, are often supported by a single person or sometimes a small group of volunteers. Further those using the tools don’t often acknowledge the tools value. That value could be recognized through citing the tools used in research papers, or contributing back to the tool through documentation enhancements, bug reports or code updates. 

In this talk, I will discuss open source tools in the context of open science. Open science refers to making scientific workflows available for others to use. This availability in turn facilitates other scientists to more easily build upon each other’s work in turn moving forward more quickly. I will talk about the communities that are trying to support open source, the struggles that open source maintainers face in keeping these tools current and managing their users. I will discuss this in the context of an organization that I founded in 2018 and now lead called pyOpenSci which focuses on 1) building a diverse community around the Python scientific open source ecosystem, 2) support for open source maintainers and 3) training and mentorship to encourage a new diverse group of open source users to contribute back to open source software. 

I look forward to an open and engaging conversation around the value of open source software to science. I will present ways that we can better support maintainers who are creating the integral tools (the diamonds) that support open scientific workflows.


Leah is an advocate of open science, open source software and open education. Her work focuses on building diverse communities that support science. She is a Remote Sensing Ecologist by training; data scientist and educator by passion. 

Leah has developed numerous programs that focus on empowering researchers with technical data science skills needed to process their data and develop open reproducible workflows. Her programs focus on community building, outreach and training and education. Leah previously built and ran the earth analytics education program at CU Boulder within Earth Lab and CIRES. She also built the NEON data skills program at the National Ecological Observatory Network - a national observatory that is collecting 30 years of data to support research around environmental change.

Leah is currently the Executive Director of pyOpenSci, an international non profit organization with a mission of building a diverse community that supports free and open Python tools for processing scientific data. pyOpenSci also trains the community with technical skills needed to contribute to open source and that support open science. 

In her free time Leah is out on the trails and in the mountains in and around Boulder running and hiking ultra distances with her rescue pup. Learn more about Leah at https://www.leahwasser.com


Dial-In Information


Thursday, December 8, 2022 at 3:30pm to 4:30pm

ECCR 265

Event Type



Science & Technology, Research & Innovation


Students, Faculty, Postdoc

College, School & Unit

Engineering & Applied Science

Computer Science
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