Welcome Natalie and Christopher—two new faces join the Overleaf team
Natalie Jonk and Christopher Hoskin both joined Overleaf in the first week of April 2018, as Community Manager and Senior Software Developer respectively.
Overleaf has grown immensely since John and I first started out over five years ago as WriteLaTeX, and today I'm delighted to announce the arrival of two new team members who bring a wealth of experience and expertise in their respective areas.
Natalie Jonk, who joins as our Community Manager, is someone I've known for a number of years, as both WriteLaTeX and her company Crowd.Science (originally Walacea) took part in the Bethnal Green Ventures startup accelerator. Natalie has a background in science and research, having formerly worked at both Novartis and Astellas Pharma, and through Crowd.Science is helping academics to raise funding for their research, particularly modest sums that can be used for pilot studies or additional equipment.
Christopher Hoskin, who joins as a Senior Software Developer, immediately caught our eye with his engaging cover letter where he talked about both his background as a Mathematician, an IT Professional and a Debian Developer, and how he's excited to explore how new technologies can help improve and advance science and mathematics.
We asked Natalie and Christopher to write a few words to introduce themselves below, and if you're interested in learning more about Overleaf and our wider team you can find short snippets about everyone here.
Natalie Jonk, Community Manager
I’m excited to have joined the Overleaf team and am particularly looking forward to building on the skills I’ve learnt through running Crowd.Science. It’s exciting to be part of a fast growing science tech company and to have the opportunity to work with academics using Overleaf.
I’m looking forward to getting to know the different groups using Overleaf, and part of my early focus will be working with the Overleaf Advisors, both in getting to know who they are and in finding ways for us to collaborate more with them. The Advisor community at Overleaf is geographically very diverse, and whilst we have successfully worked with a number of Advisors in the past in supporting local LaTeX workshops that they run within their university, or in attending conferences to represent Overleaf, there is a lot more we would like to do to help support these types of local initiatives in more universities around the world.
If you are already an Overleaf Advisor, or are thinking about becoming one, do email me to let me know any ideas, and you can also sign up here. At Crowd.Science I’ve always enjoyed getting to know the academics we work with while working on their projects so I look forward to this aspect of the role at Overleaf too.
I’ll also be working with the wider community of users to make sure you have the information you need to use Overleaf effectively, and to help your collaborators do so too. Part of this will be working on helpful information, tips and tricks to share, so if you have ideas for these please let me know.
Christopher Hoskin, Senior Software Developer
I've been interested in mathematics for as long as I can remember, and computers since I was a teenager. My first experiences with LaTeX were writing up my M.Sc. Dissertation at Oxford in the late 1990s, and I've continued using it for my D.Phil thesis and subsequent research. I loved the beautiful way TeX typesets my work, but getting everything installed and working on a Windows 98 computer took some effort, files needed to be copied between my college computer, my home computer and faculty computers, it was difficult to keep track of which was the latest version of a file, particularly as deadlines approached. TeX files would be e-mailed to supervisors/examiners/collaborators/reviewers, and their comments then manually worked back into the latest draft of documents.
My first thought on seeing Google Docs, shortly after finishing my D.Phil was "wouldn't it be great to do something similar for TeX documents". I put this thought to one side, and took up an IT career at Oxford to pay for a house, working at various times as a web developer, information systems officer and college IT Manager. I retained my interest in mathematics during this time, doing some undergraduate class teaching and co-authoring 3 papers. Having developed an interest in integrating services with Single Sign On (SSO) via Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) my final job at Oxford was leading the Identity and Access Management Team. During this time I became a Debian Developer, and also started to develop an interest in Kubernetes.
I was delighted when I discovered that WriteLaTeX and ShareLaTeX had produced the collaborative LaTeX web editor I had imagined and I started using them for my LaTeX work, which by this time had expanded from mathematical papers into presentations including syntax highlighted code extracts, Gantt charts and GraphViz diagrams. Both products had features that I wanted, so I was enthusiastic about the merger into Overleaf. With my mortgage paid off, it was time to think about what I'd like to do next with my life. Was there some way of combining my interests in IT with Mathematics? Like all the best ideas, the answer was retrospectively obvious.