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Meet Kristian

Kristian Allen joined the UCLA Library as a software architect in 2008 and has been an integral part of Digital Library Program (DLP) and the Data Science Center (DSC) for over 15 years. Kristian work focuses on the following areas:

Teaching and Instruction

As a Certified Carpentries Instructor, Kristian primarily teaches lessons related to Python, SQL and OpenRefine. Carpentries(opens in a new tab) is a non-profit organization that develops a curriculum to teach computer science (CS) and programming skills to people with non-technical backgrounds. It serves as an excellent resource for graduate students, staff members and advanced undergraduates at UCLA and beyond. As a teacher, Kristian said his goal is to “meet the learners where they are and make them feel confident in their abilities.” Kristian not only regularly teaches the topics he specializes in, but also helps at other workshops and experiments with more nuanced topics, such as the recent workshop in Intro to AI for GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums).

Pandas Carpentry Snippet
Code Snippet of Pandas Workshop from Carpentry

Kristian uses a learner-centered approach in his teaching. He assesses student needs and uses feedback to continually improve his lesson plans. For example, Kristian realized his students find the graphing section of the Python tutorial more helpful than the section on writing tests for code, but they often don't have time to cover both. To ensure the students were getting the most value out of the course, he changed the lesson to prioritize graphing. He also engages his students by using data that’s interesting to the learner.

Deep Learning Machine

In addition to teaching, Kristian works alongside DSC's Leigh Phan on the Library’s Deep Learning Machine (DLM). In the past three years, there has been an uptake on demand for AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) techniques to analyze data. With a GPU processor, the DLM aims to provide a quick, low-barrier-to-entry solution for researchers who hope to scale their data analysis process without long waits with their local computers or the prohibitive costs of cloud services.

Deep Learning Machine
Deep Learning Machine

Kristian has led the process of making a user management system on the DLM so researchers can easily log in without complicated terminal commands, which can be intimidating for people with little CS experience. After surveying researchers, Kristian discovered that most users use R and Python programming languages. Hence, the DSC is building both RStudio and Jupyter Lab interfaces to provide the simplest solution that works for the broadest audience.

As more researchers and graduate students come to the DSC with medium to large-sized data, the DLM will be a great asset to the campus community. “Once the log in system is complete,” Kristian said, “the Deep Learning Machine will be open to anyone on campus.”

Working with DataSquad

Last, Kristian works closely with DataSquad members on data consulting projects. DataSquad(opens in a new tab) is DSC's team of undergraduate students who support data-related projects at UCLA. Kristian sets up the project for DataSquad student workers by providing background information and preliminary research, such as helpful libraries and examples from other sources. Rather than having nebulous project scopes, Kristian defines clear objectives and breaks them down into smaller tasks for consultants, which has been extremely helpful for the students.

For example, for the Orang Asli Study, Kristian frequently meets with the Shail, a DataSquad student consultant, to discuss coding issues and provide feedback. When Shail worked on the base cases for text extraction, Kristian helped identify edge cases and provided detailed instructions on handling them. Combining the methods, Shail developed a robust way to help reduce ambiguity when extracting question text in a noisy environment with proprietary encodings, such as Microsoft Word, and ambiguous and dual-meaning symbols, like parentheses, enumerated statements and missing termination data.

While Kristian is known as a software architect, he does much more — he’s an experienced instructor, a skilled developer and a dedicated mentor. We appreciate Kristian’s contribution to all the areas we mentioned above and the ones not highlighted article!

To find out how Kristian can help you with your work and to book a consultation with him, visit his staff profile!

Associated Staff Member