Tech Savvy Astronomer is about changing the way we approach modern day, data–intensive astronomy research. It’s about developing innovative ideas, projects and products that challenge the status quo. It's creating a new culture of tech savvy astronomers, equipped with industry standard tech skills to complement scientific computing and domain specific data analysis expertise. Most importantly, it's about letting go of preconceived ideas, thinking creatively, and joining a growing community of research astronomers, instrument scientists, and freelance software developers and consultants who like to think outside the box. The tech savvy philosophy is in many ways, similar to human centred design principles.

By understanding astronomers tech needs, we can better prepare researchers — from all data–intensive research disciplines — for successful careers outside of academia. The lack of tenure track, and research and development positions within astronomy makes the technology sector a very attractive alternative, particularly for researchers with strong scientific computing and python programming skills. Across Europe, USA, & Australia, specialised researchers with strong mathematical and analytical skills are highly sought after for a variety of roles in the business and technology sectors, such as data scientists, analysts, technical product and program development mangers, and leaders of data incubators and labs.

Since the launch of the Insight Data Science Fellowship program, the Science to Data Science (S2DS) program, and other similar data incubator programs, many astronomers have moved on from research to more lucrative careers in the technology sector. Similarly, the increasing number of start-up incubators, business accelerator programs, and access to tech-based co-working spaces, has made it much easier for academic researchers to break into tech. This trend is likely to continue with tech savvy astronomers being the most likely to succeed at making this transition.

Tech Savvy Astronomer help researchers discover some of the most useful and widely used tools in the technology sector. Recommendations come from astronomers that are currently developing new tools to handle the anticipated complex datasets from the next-generation telescopes and science surveys, as well as astronomers, instrument scientists and web developers who have successfully moved into the tech industry.

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Dr. Arna Karick is a freelance consultant specialising in research infrastructure and scientific computing. Prior to moving to tech, she held postdoctoral positions in observational astronomy, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Liverpool John Moores University, and the University of Oxford. Her research focussed on understanding the evolution of galaxies in clusters, and understanding the stellar populations and dynamics of individual galaxies. 

In 2013 she moved back to Australia and began working for Swinburne University of Technology as an e-Research Consultant for Swinburne Research. She currently serves on AAL's Astronomy e-Research Advisory Committee and Computing Infrastructure  & Planning Working Group. She is also on the Melbourne organising committee for Random Hacks of Kindness – Australia.  

She holds a BSc in Physics & Geophysics and a PhD in Astronomy, from the University of Melbourne, Australia.


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