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Staff Q&A: Matthew Baumann, developer, NUCATS Institute

Kate Harken

Matthew Baumann, developer at the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute, helps build and manage the Competitions and I2B2 tools.

Read a Q&A with Baumann below.

Where are you originally from?

I was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Green Bay. 

What is your educational background?

I have studied several disciplines. My first bachelor's degree was from St. Norbert College in biology and history. After that I pursued graduate school in classical archaeology and art history. A little later, I returned to school to do a BS/MS in computer science at Loyola University Chicago. Currently, I am using my Northwestern tuition benefits for an MA in bioethics and medical humanities.

Please tell us about your professional background.

Odd jobs were the norm as I made my way through school, working in libraries, as an adjunct instructor, or as a film extra. I also spent 10 summers working at the American School's excavations in the Athenian Agora. My job in Northwestern's Applied Informatics Group is my first programming job after school.

Why do you enjoy working at Northwestern?

Northwestern is one of the top research institutions in the US and to achieve that takes a large collective effort. I am happy to be one piece in this 6,500-piece puzzle. Without any one of us, the picture is incomplete.

What exciting projects are you working on?

I primarily work on two projects for Northwestern. The first is Competitions, an open-source tool to run NIH-style peer review of competitions, pilot projects and research proposals in a cloud-based consortium-wide single sign-on platform.

The second project is maintaining Northwestern's instance of I2B2, a web-based tool that allows scientists, students and staff to develop and run simple queries against a subset of de-identified data in the Northwestern Medicine Enterprise Data Warehouse (NMEDW). This gives users the ability to quickly determine the feasibility of conducting a study.

How do you help scientists or research students at the medical school?

Competitions helps the administration to distribute grant money to researchers. I2B2 allows researchers find how many patient records exist for a given set of parameters, helping them decide whether to engage the EDW's services.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Writing computer code is a combination of problem solving and building. First, we work with our customers to identify needs or opportunities for improvements in workflows. Then we architect a solution for how to meet that given set of requirements. Finally, we build out the product for the customer that solves their problem.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My partner and I purchased a landmarked house a few years ago and our renovation and restoration efforts keep us rather busy. I also enjoy birding when the weather and time allows.