Inside DELTA: 5 Questions with Karen Liu

Although still relatively new to DELTA, Junior PHP Developer Karen Liu has quickly become a valuable member of the Open Source Application team. 

Originally from China, Liu received her undergraduate degree in management science from South China Normal University. She relocated to the Triangle in 2016 where she changed fields and earned her master’s degree in Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

From there, Liu worked for a few other businesses before joining the DELTA team in October 2021 as a junior PHP developer on the Open Source Application team.

How would you describe your position to someone who is unfamiliar with DELTA?

As a member of the Open Source Application team, Liu’s work focuses on maintaining the online education tools DELTA uses, specifically Moodle and WordPress. 

“My team deals mainly with the website tools that help students with online learning and help instructors to actually put their learning materials online,” Liu said. 

Liu at Comic-Con in the summer of 2021.

Liu said she considers her expertise to be in web development, working both on the front end with web design as well as the back end with databases.

What do your day-to-day responsibilities consist of? 

Liu’s days usually consist of whatever her team is assigned at the moment, and right now their task has been the Moodle and WordPress annual reviews. 

“I have been helping with the Moodle code review, just doing some testing and playing around for when we upgrade to Moodle 4 this year,” Liu said. 

Liu has been undertaking similar tasks to ensure WordPress is the best it can be for the upcoming year. 

Why do you enjoy working at DELTA?

Liu emphasized that the people at DELTA are what make it great. 

“I remember when I got my role, and I was not even on the team yet. I saw my email, and it was filled with lists of welcome emails–they didn’t even know who I was yet! I thought, ‘Wow I’m flattered!’” she said. 

She has also enjoyed the community events DELTA holds, specifically highlighting weekly coffee chats and last year’s Thanksgiving event as memorable. 

“That was fun– actually getting to meet people in person when I had only seen pictures of them before,” Liu said.

What is the most challenging aspect of your position?

Liu said that becoming a technical expert has been the most challenging but also one of the most fun parts of her position.

“The Moodle system is new to me, and it’s complicated, with lots of different models and levels. I have been going through it and seeing how it all works and I still need quite some time to get used to it,” said Liu.

However, Liu also shared a recent victory to prove her hard work is paying off. 

“I actually put code in there, and I thought, “OK, things work. They are actually working as I thought, and the function at the end of the day actually works. It was like, ‘Wow. I got this.’ It’s good,” she said.

What are your interests outside of work?

“I like traveling a lot. And in recent years, I started to get more interested in hiking, and now I’m starting to get into backpacking as well but not so much about it yet, mainly traveling around the U.S. and going to National Parks,” said Liu. 

Some of Liu’s favorite trips abroad included visiting the base camp of Mt. Everest and the Serengeti plain while doing volunteer work in Tanzania during her time at South China Normal University. In America, she has visited Death Valley, Zion National Park, The Great Smoky Mountains and even part of the Appalachian Trail. And while she enjoys traveling, she also frequents the many trails located in Raleigh as well.

When she isn’t traveling or coding, Liu also enjoys cooking Chinese cuisine, watching anime, learning guitar or playing with her cats, Ramen and Soba.

Liu and her friends at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.
Ramen and Soba snuggling.