Careers, Guest blog

How to learn to code

From Nature Careers

In this 60-minute webinar, from Nature, 3 speakers discuss how they learnt how to code, sharing advice and personal experiences, before answering questions from Nature’s readers.

Nature Technology editor Jeffrey Perkel talks us through his first steps in coding for some of the journal’s editorial projects, explaining how he used the programming language R to document the diversity of authors and sources in his section of Nature.

Next, we hear from Julia Stewart Lowndes, a marine data scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She shares how she picked up coding while tracking the migrations of squid, and how the experience prompted her to become a cheerleader for open coding in science. Drawing an analogy with Star Wars, she says: “Luke didn’t go on to defeat the empire by himself. He had a whole community.”

Finally, software engineer JooYoung Seo describes losing his sight as a child, and how a deep relationship with computers helped him to find new ways to engage with the world. Seo, who will shortly join the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an assistant professor, outlines how coders can keep accessibility practices in mind. “I found hope in the bright light of digital technology,” he says, “and I knew it would bring me back what I had lost.”

The webinar was held on 4 June 2021 and includes suggested additional resources and a live Q&A discussion about the best programming languages for novice coders.

It forms part of Nature Careers’ ongoing 2021 webinar programme. For information about future topics, please visit

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