My first week with OneZoom

scrn1-wide-treeWho are OneZoom?

OneZoom are a small up-and-coming charity, founded in 2012, dedicated to providing educational material about evolution. They have developed a tool that allows users to view all species on earth in a huge evolutionary tree (you can see it here: It has already been shown at science fairs across the UK, and is now a fixed feature at a number of museums of natural history around the globe. Despite its huge achievements, OneZoom is almost entirely the work of just two people, working in their spare time to make a vast body of knowledge on biodiversity and evolution available to anyone of any age.


Why am I working with them?

I first heard about OneZoom when Dr James Rosindell (OneZoom’s founder) gave a lecture at a conference called ‘mathematical approaches to evolutionary trees’. Although I am not a biologist, the word ‘mathematical’ caught my eye and I went along. I was fascinated by the approach that OneZoom took, and after spending several hours browsing the tree that evening, I was hooked. I later emailed James to see if I might be able to work with him, and a couple of outreach events and a research placement later, here I am!

What am I doing?screen2_small

Whilst OneZoom works beautifully on a number of platforms, and can easily be accessed on a mobile phone, it still suffers a little from the reduced performance of mobile devices, meaning that navigation on these devices can be jerky. My role in OneZoom will be to work towards improving these mobile problems, specifically implementing a type of panning used by Google Maps on mobiles, where the image is only redrawn at the end of a swipe, instead of at every point along it.

My first week

Over this last week, I have been becoming familiar with the large codebase that OneZoom consists of, setting up a development environment, and making small improvements to the code along the way. Now I’m moving into the second week feeling familiar with the way things are fitting together, and ready to make a start implementing the panning improvements for mobile. Alongside the programming I’m also helping present OneZoom at the Science Museum Lates this Wednesday, and taking a trip to Oxford next week to work with OneZoom’s team in person. Wish me luck!

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