Animation, Ants and Astrophysics — 3 MORE exciting jobs that use programming

Animation, ants and astrophysics. What do they have in common? They are all in jobs that use programming!

The LEGO Batman Movie: one of the movies Will Southers from Animal Logic has worked on. Source: supplied

We often hear that the jobs of the future will involve coding, but in reality that future is already here. So many jobs these days use programming, and not all of them are what you expect. Below are 3 exciting people who use programming to get the job done.
If you enjoyed this article, you can read about other jobs that use coding in my previous article 3 exciting jobs that use programming.

1. Film Production R&D Developer

Will Southers: Animal Logic

Will Southers

What does your role involve? Being a feature film production company focused on visual effects and animation, Animal Logic has what we call a ‘render farm’, which is essentially a very large cluster of computers. We use these computers to run many processes concurrently, where a process could be anything from rendering a frame for one of the films we’re working on, to transporting concept art to the other side of the world for review. My role within the Research and Development department is to help design, develop, and maintain our in-house built software that collects, schedules, manages, and presents the state of these processes to our various users. Plus appreciate all the awesome art the artists come up with!

What is your favourite part of your job? I’m a huge film fan and I love being involved in the filmmaking process. Actively contributing to such large creative projects and eventually sharing the finished products with friends, family, and everyone around the world, is very rewarding.
I also just love solving problems with technology.

How did you end up in your current role? Ever since I saw Toy Story for the first time as a kid I knew I wanted to work in feature film animation and computer graphics. I studied this area as a sub-major at university while building up my fundamental software development skills in the core of my degree. I gained some experience working in other industries for a few years and eventually applied for a role at Animal Logic, where I’ve been ever since.

What language/s do you use? Right now I primarily use Java, Javascript, Python, and shell scripting. Essentially whatever language is best to solve the problem at hand.

Where did you learn to code? A combination of self-teaching, high school, and university.

What did you study at university? I studied a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Anything else you want to add? Never stop learning!

The LEGO Batman Movie. Source: supplied

2. Biotechnologist

Samira Aili: University of Technology Sydney

Samira Aili

What does your role involve? My PhD involves looking at venom from ants to identify what it has and how we can use it as an insecticide. We’ve found that it has thousands of proteins, so my job is to find which ones are important and relevant for insecticide discovery. I’ve had to learn and use code in the last few months in order to analyse my data which consists of 10s of thousands of rows of numbers and sequences of different proteins. It’s been a tough yet rewarding experience to learn the powers of coding to decipher my biological data super quickly.

What is your favourite part of your job? The best part is definitely doing experiments. My project means I work with live crickets and test the activity of my venom in real time. Seeing results in real time is sometimes frustrating (if negative), but mostly rewarding. Another part of my job that I love is getting to present my research to the wider scientific community. I’ve come to love public speaking and communicating my results to international and national audiences of all ages.

How did you end up in your current role? I did a Bachelor of Medical Science as an undergraduate degree. Towards the end, I was still unsure of what I wanted to do as a career. I was tossing up between Pharmacy and Honours by research, so I chose honours because it was a shorter way to make up my decision. I enjoyed this so much, that I decided to continue the research project as a PhD which is where I’m at now.

What language/s do you use? Bash and Python.

What did you study at university? Bachelor of Medical Science.

Where did you learn to code? I did a couple of courses on Unix and Python with Intersect who run free courses for university students, and have continued learning with help from a fellow PhD student in bioinformatics.

Anything else you want to add? Learning code has definitely been a great skill to acquire, particularly in our time as data science seems to be a flourishing industry. I have no doubt that I’ll be using these skills in the future!

3. Lecturer / Astrophysicist

Martin Bell: University of Technology Sydney

What does your role involve? I have a PhD in astrophysics and I am lecturer and researcher within this field. Astronomy has become very data intensive and the day to day role of an astronomer almost certainly involves coding 90% of the time. For example, to manipulate large numbers of images and extract measurements I use Python’s numpy routines. This way we can essentially turn an image into a matrix and perform mathematical operations. I also do a lot of programming in the supercomputer environment. To produce an image with one of our state of the art telescopes we require around 5 hours of processing on a supercomputer. That is only from two minutes of telescope data! I therefore spend a large amount of time parallelising my code (making it run more than one thing at once) to produce images quickly and efficiently. Otherwise, we would drown in raw data.

The Murchison Widefield Array — The telescope used by Dr Bell. Source:

What is your favourite part of your job? My goal is to get an answer, or some insight about the universe, from my data and work. Coding gives me the tools to do this. My favourite part is when the pieces of the puzzle come together and I get some great insight about the Universe with a great piece of code.

How did you end up in your current role? Basically, I just put one foot in front of the other. Starting from my Bachelors degree, I was always keen to see if I could make it to the next stage and then 15 years later here I am.

What language/s do you use? Python is my staple, but also MATLAB, C-shell and SQL.

What did you study at university? Bachelor of Science (Astrophysics), Master of Science (Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering), Postgraduate Certificate in Education, PhD (Astrophysics)

Where did you learn to code? Mainly self taught during my PhD, but I had some basic Fortran and Basic taught to me in my first degree, and also some MatLab in my Masters degree.

If you have an awesome job that uses programming, let us know! Send an email to and tell us about it, and don’t forget to clap and share if you found this useful!

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