This month, CancerLinQ is excited to feature one of our extremely talented software engineers, Elise Gafford. Elise currently serves as Lead Software Engineer at CancerLinQ, but she wasn’t always an engineer.

Elise attended Brown University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, then returned to school at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She began her career as an RN, first in oncology, then hospice. She found her career bogged down with so much paperwork that her focus could not be as wholly on care as desired. She wondered if she might be able to do more good in a different type of role.

Elise GaffordBefore she landed at CancerLinQ, Elise began working in web quality assurance and built her skills on the job. She fell in love with open-source tech and went to work with an open-source cloud storage team until she decided that it was time to go into medical software, as she’d originally planned.

Elise is passionate about the open-source software movement, transgender rights advocacy, and autism acceptance. She likes very much that CancerLinQ is a place where she can come to work as herself and that her colleagues “enjoy and embrace my weird.”

What has been your experience at CancerLinQ so far?

I came to CancerLinQ from a company of over 10,000, so I experienced a BIG shift. I’m excited that there is a greater opportunity to make an impact at CancerLinQ. That is what I hope I am currently doing in my work on our Patient Journey, a new tool to help our practices learn about their patients using CancerLinQ’s whole data set. This effort will solve truly novel problems with just a small team.

What has been your biggest achievement at CancerLinQ?

I am proudest of my work on the measures engine, where I’ve collaborated to turn a poorly understood system into a living codebase, allowing for dev tests that run with every bit of new code and logic sharing among measures.

I think the greatest strength I bring to CancerLinQ is my ability to dance between clinical and engineering logic. After seeing systems built by engineers without clinicians or vice versa, I know both options cause the systems to suffer.

What do you do for fun when not working?

I enjoy reading Christian mystical texts, medieval nuns in particular. I’m kind of a huge nerd: I watch an embarrassing number of cartoons (rewatching Revolutionary Girl Utena at present), run a weekly tabletop RPG (currently a cyberpunk / Norse mythology mashup), and play video games (I alternate between cozy story games and games that truly want to kill you over and over again). I take weekly circus arts classes, focusing on trapeze and lyra. Sometimes my brain composes musical numbers in my dreams, and sometimes I write them down in reality. I really like just being in forests.