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Machiel Jansen

Machiel Jansen

"There is a lot more you can do when you look beyond your own laptop or desktop computer"

e-Science & Cloud Services group, SARA
Group size: 10 (not all involved in bioinformatics)

1. What is the leading research theme in your group?
"We are not a research group, but we support scientists in their research by offering them access to our High Performance Computing infrastructure, such as the Life Sciences Grid, cloud computing or supercomputers. Of course, we also support them in using these platforms. Our support also stretches to contributing new directions to their research by introducing scientists to the many possibilities HPC offers. We try to show them that there is a lot more you can do when you look beyond your own laptop or desktop computer."

2. With what type of groups or organisations do you collaborate most and why?
"When it comes to bioinformatics, our collaborations are mostly channelled through our partnership with NBIC, which forms the basis for a variety of bioinformatics projects that we participate in. Our partnership with NBIC is also the driver behind our participation in e-BioGrid, which in turn is part of the BiG Grid project. We almost exclusively work with academic partners."

3. From your perspective, what are the main challenges in bioinformatics right now?
"The bioinformatics field is very heterogeneous, which makes it hard to come up with one general solution to a problem. Furthermore, the developments move at such a high speed that it is very difficult to anticipate the needs in terms of data processing even in the very near future. The increase in data volumes is enormous and dealing with this increase is a major challenge. Besides, I also see that not everyone in bioinformatics is similarly willing to adapt and quickly respond to changes in the field. I do think however that many problems can be solved in the next three years, but it will require more than just technical solutions."

4. What is the most important task of a group leader?
"To motivate people to offer their best performance and to create a team spirit, give everyone the feeling that they are part of a communal effort and work towards a communal goal. How to do that? By being well aware of everyone's activities as well as the problem they are facing. Show them that you are interested and willing to help."
5. How would you describe the atmosphere in your group?
"Positive, informal, enthusiastic and always interested in innovative solutions and new technical possibilities."

Text by Esther Thole.