After being unemployed since last fall(my LinkedIn page says I was a freelance web developer) I have been working now for six weeks doing computer work for a company that works with ecology. It seems to be going well, but its hard to tell what your employers think of your progress at a new job. Hopefully I won’t get fired next week!
The company is located in Asheville, so I am a remote worker using all the latest internet tools like vpn, remote desktop, instant messaging, and Skype. The owner of the company has written a large computer program mostly in the language C++ that is used to model populations of Red-cockaded Woodpecker, so my main responsibilities are maintaining and adding to the C++ code. I have also done some Python scripting and data manipulation with the PostgreSQL database. The program has been used to model woodpecker population on military bases and the current project is modeling the population at Fort Benning.
Aside from computer knowledge, a lot of the modelling is common sense. However, one area that was suggested that I read up on is the area of population genetics. So I have started reading an introduction, and find it to be an interesting subject. The main law of population genetics(at least the part I have read) is the law of Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The Hardy in the name is named for a famous mathematician – if mathematicians can be considered famous, which I found interesting. Another area that the book covers is evolution. You hear a lot about evolution as a political and religious issue, but its the first time I have read anything about evolution as a quantified science. Among other things evolution theory predicts the frequencies of genes that cause sickle-cell anemia, Huntington disease, and cystic fibrosis.