Ralf is a crystallographer. He has a degree in Mineralogy (Bochum, Germany), and a Ph.D. in Crystallography (ETH Zurich , Switzerland). Real Mineralogists and Crystallographers run experiments with x-rays and hardware that is not normally associated with C++ and Boost. However, when Ralf kept breaking the expensive experimental equipment too often, he decided that he would cause less damage as a computational crystallographer.
Being a scientist, Ralf spent most of his life programming in Fortran, the great grand-father of all good programming languages (if you know Backus-Naur you know the name of the inventor of Fortran). Ralf is a co-author of the CNS Fortran program that is very popular in structural biology. When he learned that a real programmer can write Fortran in any language, Ralf knew that it was time for him to learn C++. Of course, absorbing four decades of progress in the field of computer science all at once crashed his brain. To be able to deal with the challenge, he spawned two child processes and named them Lisa and Anna. To see Lisa, click on the picture and turn your monitor by 180 degrees around the view axis. (Other pictures of Lisa and Anna do not require gymnastics with the monitor.)
Right now, Ralf is working for the Computational Crystallography Initiative at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. The goal of this initiative is to write a software system for high-throughput protein crystal structure determination, also known as Structural Genomics. Surprisingly, the gestation period for such a system turns out to be much longer than it was for Lisa and Anna. However, pre-natal diagnosis already revealed that Python and C++ are the parents-to-be. For an ultra-sound image of the new system at its early developmental stage click here .