Staff Spotlight: Matthew Dunlap
Matthew Dunlap joined the Odum Institute staff in November of 2019 as a Systems Programmer/Analyst. Born and raised just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, Dunlap received his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Christopher Newport University, and later his Master’s in Human Computer Interaction from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.
Before joining the Odum team, he worked on Dataverse, an open source research data web repository application, as a Software Developer at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. Through this project, he first heard of the Odum Institute and worked with Don Sizemore, now a colleague and project collaborator.
Looking for an escape from the cold New England winters, Dunlap found an opening at Odum developing a new web application for curating and verifying publication data (CoRe2) and has been a part of the Chapel Hill community ever since.
As the main developer of the CoRe2 (Confirmable Reproducible Research Environment) project, his main goal is to ease publication data verification process through two main fronts:
- Creating a web application that the various members of the data curation process can perform the tasks needed to produce well curated data. Scientists can submit their data package and communicate with curators/verifiers. Curators and verifiers can check the quality of the data and metadata and work through multiple publication packages in tandem,
- And providing computing environments to scientists and archivists where they can run the code that generates finalized publication data (the code that generates tables and figures used in research). These environments are shared, so that archivists and scientists can work together in the same space and get the code into an understandable and reproducible form.
Since working at Odum, Dunlap says he’s learned that you can do good work and have fun while doing it.
“The Odum community is made up of passionate, hard-working individuals who give their all to make Odum a place of joy, reflection and progress.”
He notes his job is likely one of the least affected by the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the rest of the staff, since he’s the only developer working on the CoReRE project and can easily do that remotely. He’s still able to consult with graduate students using Python and Dataverse via email.
He does, however, miss daily interactions with and working alongside the archive and research data information systems (RDIS) staff at Odum. “One of reasons I moved here was the positive and inclusive nature of the Institute,” notes Dunlap. He will probably be one of the last staff members to return to campus, since his job can be done so easily from home, which he says is both a blessing and a curse.
Outside of the office, Matthew is an avid bicyclist and backpacker, two hobbies which he’s been able to explore more frequently since working from home. He also creates electronic music in his spare time, with specific interest in ambient, techno, and hardcore electronic.
While he’s able to continue his work on the CoRe2 project from home, he looks forward to returning to the office and completing future projects with the RDIS staff.