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Ken Youens-Clark

Ken is a scientific programmer, author, and teacher. He started as a Jazz Studies major at the University of North Texas where he played drums. After a couple of years, he figured he didn’t want to be a professional musician, changed his major several times, and finally graduated with a BA in English literature.

Like some heavy-handed fiction, Ken’s first job at a company that produced synthetic DNA and peptides overly forshadowed the arc of his career. He showed little interest in the biology but rather gravitated towards computers, databases, and web development. When he left that job, he was relieved to know that he’d never have to think about DNA again.

His next job as a technical writer led to learning VisualBasic, at which point he was hooked on computer programming. After a couple of years developing Windows desktop applications, he moved to web development in a Microsoft shop. Bored, he found that his ISP offered a Unix shell account where he learned how to use the command line and write Perl CGI scripts.

Ken’s experience in Perl helped him land his first job in bioinformatics for Dr. Lincoln Stein at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. After many years of listening to people talk about things like micro RNA, he jumped at the chance to work for Dr. Bonnie Hurwitz at the University of Arizona, where he earned his MS. Next, Ken worked at The Critical Path Institute and DNAnexus before joining the Wheeler Lab.

Ken is the author of three books:

Outside of work, Ken enjoys playing music, cooking, and cycling, mostly as a volunteer with El Grupo.

Riding up Mt. Wrightson

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