This month we’re meeting Jyothish Bhai, who works in the Ensembl web team.
What is your job in Ensembl?
I work as a senior Frontend Developer in the Ensembl Web team. Our team looks after all web related stuff, which includes collaborating with other teams to bring new features, any improvements and bug fixes to Ensembl.
The Ensembl Web team is generally divided into two – the Frontend team bring our site to life, and are both creative and tech-savvy. We work mostly on implementing and maintaining the user-facing functionalities. The Backend Web team take care of the actual engine that powers Ensembl – the application, server and databases.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy doing front end development because, in the end, that is what a user will see or experience. Although it is challenging to satisfy all our users, we try to do our best.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment, we are trying to update our tech stack with the latest web technologies, and so we are now in the process of improving the design and user experience of our web pages. To cope with that we are currently trying to build up our technical expertise in this area. Hopefully our users will be happy to see the new face of Ensembl.
I have also recently worked on integrating a Pathway widget to Ensembl Genomes which is going live with the next release. The pathway widget provides users with an intuitive means of viewing and interacting with pathway diagrams.
What is your typical day?
After reading the important news and emails, a typical day for me starts by looking for any major issues with Ensembl that were reported and then trying to resolve them. We also have a ‘scrum’ meeting every morning which is useful to get an update from everyone on what they are working on. I will then normally continue with the particular project or task that I am working on.
I like to spend my breaks playing foosball with some of my friends who work at the EBI.
How did you end up here?
I come from the Southern part of India and that’s where I did all my studies. After graduating from Amrita School of Biotechnology, I started my career working on different bioinformatics web development projects at various organisations across India. I still remember during academic lessons we were taught about tools and databases developed at top organisations across the world. I was always interested to work at those organisations and applied to work on the Global Pneumococcal Sequencing project at the Sanger Institute. I couldn’t believe that I was going to work at an organisation where the human genome sequencing was done! That was a great opportunity for me and I moved to UK.
I was always fascinated about the web applications and tools developed at EBI and I came to know more about EBI through my friends as both the Sanger Institute and EMBL-EBI shared the same campus. Ensembl had a web developer position open at that time, which I applied for and as a result I am here now. I was happy to stay on the Genome campus as it is awesome with great facilities.
What surprised you most about Ensembl when you started working here?
We have great diversity in the team and are one of the largest teams in the Genome Campus which means it is a great place to learn different cultures. Also, I have never worked on such a huge web application project with millions of users globally. Now that’s the challenge and I am learning a lot.
What is the coolest tool or data type in Ensembl that you think everybody should know about?
We have been integrating different widgets into Ensembl – one of which is the Gene Expression Atlas view which provides data about the baseline gene expression data. It has an intuitive visualisation with data of great importance and many applications.