Meet Data Engineer Sander Rodenburg (30). He joined The Hyve’s cancer genomics team in June 2019. He likes to work with a variety of data types, transforming them to the cBioPortal format using various tools and algorithms, and he enjoys supporting clients when they have data-related questions. Outside office hours, Sander enjoys cycling and bouldering, though at the moment much of his time is spent on house-hunting.
Can you tell me about your background?
I have both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Bioinformatics. For my bachelor’s, I studied at HAN University of Applied Sciences in Nijmegen. After graduating, I worked for about six months for a company developing software for General Practitioners (GPs). My master studies were at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and my graduation internship was at Genetwister, a company specializing in research and development for plant breeding companies.
My masters was followed up with a PhD at WUR on a collaboration project between the departments of Bioinformatics and Phytopathology, a division that focuses on researching plant diseases. My PhD project involved developing a model for the interaction between tomato plants and oomycetes, microorganisms infecting tomatoes and potatoes. The model predicted the exchange of toxins and nutrients between the parasite and tomato plant.
After finishing my four-year PhD contract, I joined The Hyve’s Cancer Genomics team in June 2019 as data engineer and bioinformatician. In the meantime, I finished writing my thesis and obtained my doctorate degree in September 2020.
How did you get to know The Hyve?
In the second year of my PhD I attended an open day at The Hyve, just out of interest to learn a bit more about the company. When I started looking for a job by the end of my PhD, I spotted the vacancy for data engineer at The Hyve on a careers site. I applied, was invited for an interview, and ended up working here.
What do you do at The Hyve?
The Hyve has quite a number of clients that are running cBioPortal on their own infrastructure. I'm the point of contact when clients need support or have data-related questions. I help them with data-related tasks such as transforming data to the cBioPortal format or loading data onto the platform. With new clients, I’m also involved with the customization and installation of cBioPortal.
What do you like about working at The Hyve?
I like working with different datasets and a range of different data types and facilitating efficient transformation of these data to the cBioPortal format. I’ve always liked coding and writing scripts for transforming data. It’s really nice to see how data adjustments lead to visualizations in cBioPortal.
I also like the contact I have with customers. We work with many clients but my point of contact is often the same person or group of people within a company, so you really build a professional relationship.
The Hyve offers a pleasant and sociable working environment with friendly colleagues. I like that many of them are around my age. I also appreciate the flexibility, for instance when it comes to working hours.
Can you mention an exciting development in your field?
In the past few years, we’ve been able to automate quite a number of processes like the deployment of cBioPortal with Docker and a number of transformation pipelines. And we developed it all in-house. We also benefit from good code-bases and repositories with code that can be easily reused and customized for a particular client. This automation makes it much quicker and easier for us to get cBioPortal up and running on a client’s server.
Another innovation is that we set up automatic loading pipelines at several clients. This means that when they transfer data to a certain location, the data is automatically loaded in cBioPortal. It was quite a nice challenge to develop this system, install it and get it up and running for a number of clients.
What do you like to do when you're 'off-duty'?
At the moment, we’re looking out for a house to buy. That takes up a lot of time. For sports, I like cycling. In the past, I enjoyed bouldering. It’s a type of climbing where you climb on relatively low rock walls without ropes or harnesses. You’re climbing solely on technique and it’s quite a puzzle to figure out how to get to the top. It’s quite a popular sport nowadays. In the past years, I haven’t bouldered much. First I needed to finish my thesis, then all the climbing facilities closed because of Covid-19. But I’d like to take it up again.