Mark Tomko: Exploring New Ground


Software Engineer, The Broad Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mark Tomko comes to GSLIS with an accomplished high-tech background -- and decidedly unique goals. With five patents to his name, he is a former software development engineer at Amazon and now works as a software engineer at an MIT- and Harvard-affiliated biomedical research institute while attending GSLIS part time. Such experience, says Tomko, has put him on the path to be what he calls a "nontraditional librarian."

He explains: "I'm melding the fields of software and information management into a career where I can work on problems in scientific data management or scientific data sharing."

Flexible curriculum: Tomko says that his time at Simmons has been one of discovery. He points to his Digital Libraries course, for which he and his classmates created a functioning digital library, as an example of how Simmons delivers a sophisticated skill set with real-world relevance.

"It was an amazing class because it put everything into play all at once," he says. "We had to think about information organization, intellectual property, project management, cataloging, usability, and design."

Likewise, Tomko says that GSLIS's core courses are proving vital as he applies the practice and principles of general librarianship to new paradigms.

Like minds: A graduate of Ohio University with a B.S. in computer science, Tomko found Simmons to be a technologically advanced learning environment. "There are faculty who are very focused on technology and really integrate it into the curriculum," he says.

As a Dean's Fellow in Technology, Tomko contributed by developing web applications, maintaining websites, blogs, and wikis and providing technical support and training. He also helped organize events and workshops as co-chair of GSLIS's award-winning student chapter of the American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T).

Customized attention: Tomko reports that GSLIS faculty have shaped opportunities to his interests and objectives. For instance, with the help of Professor Katherine Wisser and his advisor Professor Candy Schwartz, he took an assignment for Indexing and Thesaurus Construction and transformed it into a stimulating independent study. Tomko even presented his results to the international professional community at the Networked Knowledge Organization Systems 2011 Workshop in Berlin.

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