Lee Hodgkinson, Developer in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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Lee Hodgkinson

Verified Expert  in Engineering

Back-end Developer

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Toptal Member Since
September 7, 2022

Lee is a senior back-end developer with eight years of experience working for various startups. He has a Ph.D. in physics and received a prestigious EPSRC prize. He specializes in writing scalable, well-tested, production-ready, and clean Pythonic code as an expert in the Python ecosystem and its various libraries and frameworks. Lee is proficient in machine learning, TensorFlow, PyTorch, NumPy, pandas, sci-kit-learn, and writing large-scale web scrapers and ETL pipelines.


Python, Big Data, PySpark, Amazon SageMaker, Jupyter Notebook, ETL, Blockchain...
Marcel For Art Ltd
Django, Django REST Framework, Amazon Web Services (AWS), PostgreSQL, Python 3...
North Shore Automation
Django, MongoDB, Python 3, Docker, Celery, Flask, REST, GraphQL, Python




Preferred Environment

Django, Django REST Framework, TensorFlow, Machine Learning, A/B Testing, Unit Testing, Python, PySpark, Apache Airflow, Big Data

The most amazing...

...thing I've written is a numerical simulation of a black hole, with results published in well-renowned journals and presented at international conferences.

Work Experience

Senior Back-end Developer

2022 - 2023
  • Developed heuristic algorithms that help track money laundering on the blockchain via peel chains.
  • Built algorithms for multichain address tagging that tracked cross-chain transactions and enabled address association over multiple networks.
  • Created ETL pipelines that were used to train ML models for KYC.
  • Performed data analysis on huge datasets using Hive, Pyspark, and Airflow.
Technologies: Python, Big Data, PySpark, Amazon SageMaker, Jupyter Notebook, ETL, Blockchain, Data Science

Lead Back-end Developer

2018 - 2022
Marcel For Art Ltd
  • Built the API from zero and scaled it to 100,000 users.
  • Optimized ORM database queries to scale and solve N+1 problems by writing custom Django Managers and using various techniques such as prefetching.
  • Wrote a comprehensive set of unit tests and set up CircleCI and coverage reports.
  • Set up an infrastructure in the AWS ecosystem using Elastic Beanstalk, RDS, load balancers, and CloudFront and managed deployments to staging and production.
  • Wrote an ML-driven artwork feed to deliver a custom-ordered feed to each user.
  • Built payment flows for an eCommerce side of the app, allowing the purchase of artwork through Stripe and PayPal.
  • Set up caching using Memcached to optimize the app speed.
  • Wrote a variety of AWS Lambda functions and Step Functions.
Technologies: Django, Django REST Framework, Amazon Web Services (AWS), PostgreSQL, Python 3, Pytest, Amazon RDS, Amazon CloudFront CDN, Memcached, Elasticsearch, Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), Mailchimp, Mandrill, Sentry, Mixpanel, Amplitude, CircleCI, Python

Senior Back-end Developer

2019 - 2020
North Shore Automation
  • Developed middleware for a media asset management system.
  • Built media profiles to deliver media assets to large clients such as Comcast.
  • Helped build a GraphQL API using MongoDB and Flask.
Technologies: Django, MongoDB, Python 3, Docker, Celery, Flask, REST, GraphQL, Python

Back-end Developer

2018 - 2019
  • Developed the Django REST framework API for a mobile social shopping application.
  • Helped showcase the app as the technical representative at Lisbon Web Summit 2018.
  • Used scraping techniques in Beautiful Soup to keep prices up-to-date.
  • Added social authentication to enable users to sign in with Google and Facebook.
Technologies: Django, Django REST Framework, Diffbot, Elasticsearch, Debian Linux, Ansible, Beautiful Soup, Python

Senior Back-end Developer

2015 - 2018
Evo Pricing
  • Developed a Django UI that allowed visual training of intelligent scraping bots, email alerting, and scheduling scrapes for non-technical users.
  • Ran large-scale distributed web scrapes and dealt with ban avoidance techniques such as user-agent and proxy rotation.
  • Customized Scrapy and built many custom middlewares, loaders, and pipelines.
  • Wrote an API in Django that allowed run scheduling and monitoring.
Technologies: Scrapy, Django, Python 3, Data Wrangling, Data Cleaning, jQuery, Bootstrap, HTML, XPath, CSS Selectors, Django REST Framework, Web Scraping, MySQL, Azure, SQL, Automation, Celery, Selenium, Python, Jinja

Back-end Developer

2014 - 2016
  • Contributed to developing a new responsive design for the Dooster app.
  • Managed the DevOps, such as setting up the Linux server and database.
  • Wrote integrations with Google Calendar and Google Contacts.
Technologies: Django, Ajax, jQuery, HTML, CSS, Python, Jinja

Back-end Developer

2014 - 2015
Clandestine Brewing
  • Used metrics via Graphite to show probe graphs of cold room temperature of beer in a custom Django admin.
  • Integrated with Facebook to show the latest posts on the website.
  • Redesigned the entire site from scratch to give a more responsive and fresher look.
  • Integrated with Google Calendar API to show the latest brewery events on the homepage.
Technologies: Heroku, Django, Graphite, Amazon S3 (AWS S3), Django Extension & Middleware, Ajax, Facebook SDK, PostgreSQL, Python, Jinja

Back-end Developer

2014 - 2014
  • Built spiders to gather data from over 50 bookmakers and betting exchanges in the UK.
  • Presented arbitrage opportunities to subscribers using a Django-driven website.
  • Developed an email alerts system to alert subscribers of premium arbitrage opportunities.
Technologies: Django, Scrapy, PostgreSQL, JavaScript, jQuery, HTML, Python, Jinja

iOS App for Artists and Art Lovers

A fully mobile, artist-driven app for running a creative business.

I was the lead back-end developer for over four years. I wrote the REST API in Django, managed cloud DevOps in AWS, and built an ML-powered curated feed, and payment gateways for a shop.

Mobile Social-shopping iOS Application

Developed the DRF API for a mobile social-shopping iOS application and helped showcase it in Lisbon WebSummit 2018.

In this project, I have done the following:

• Used most aspects of DRF
• Communication with Slack
• Agile workflow Trello
• DevOps using Ansible and general Debian sysadmin
• Scraping using Diffbot and BeautifulSoup
• ElasticSearch
• Social integration with Allauth

Evopricing: Large-scale Distributed Scraping

I developed a smart Scrapy spider that was trainable via a Django web GUI. This work was completed mostly alone, but at times I took the role of lead developer, trained a team of junior contracted developers, collaborated via Git, and performed code reviews.

This project allows a semi-technical user (XPATH knowledge) to configure the spider for different target sites and schedule periodic runs.

In this role, I dealt with many challenges, such as:

• Prototyping and figuring out the initial architecture.
• Ban avoidance with custom proxy-rotation and user-agent rotation middleware.
• Data integrity and cleaning.
• Writing an API in DRF allowing front-end run-scheduling and monitoring.
• Distributing scrapes.
• Provisioning servers from scratch.
• Writing custom loaders, extensions, middleware, and pipelines.

The distributed scrapes involved recursive algorithms that pushed scraping jobs into a central Redis queue for a bunch of celery workers to pick off and do in parallel.
2009 - 2013

PhD in Physics

University of Nottingham - Nottingham, United Kingdom

2003 - 2007

Master's Degree in Physics

University of Manchester - Manchester, United Kingdom


MIT Fundamentals of Statistics



Android Kotlin Developer Nanodegree



Data Scientist Nanodegree



Artificial Intelligence for Trading Nanodegree



TensorFlow in Practice Specialization



Deep Learning Specialization



Machine Learning



Pandas, NumPy, TensorFlow, PyTorch, LSTM, Zipline, jQuery, Diffbot, Beautiful Soup, Facebook SDK, Stripe, Mandrill API, PySpark


Pytest, Amazon CloudFront CDN, Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), CircleCI, Mailchimp, Sentry, Mathematica, MATLAB, You Only Look Once (YOLO), Celery, Ansible, AWS Step Functions, Beanstalk, Amazon Simple Email Service (SES), Apache Airflow, Amazon SageMaker


Django, Django REST Framework, Jinja, Flask, Scrapy, Bootstrap, Selenium, OAuth 2


Python 3, Python, C++, C, Kotlin, GraphQL, HTML, XPath, SQL, CSS, JavaScript, CSS3


Unit Testing, ETL, Siamese Neural Networks, REST, Automation, Agile, Data Science


Amazon Web Services (AWS), Mandrill, Mixpanel, Linux, Android, Docker, Azure, Debian Linux, Heroku, Jupyter Notebook, AWS Lambda, Amazon EC2, Blockchain


PostgreSQL, Memcached, Elasticsearch, MongoDB, MySQL, Amazon S3 (AWS S3), Redis


Statistics, Physics, A/B Testing, Singular Value Decomposition, Matrix Algebra, Data Wrangling, Long Short-term Memory (LSTM), Linear Regression, Bayesian Inference & Modeling, LSTM Networks, Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN), Machine Learning, Deep Neural Networks, Neural Networks, Hypothesis Testing, Recommendation Systems, Amplitude, Bayesian Statistics, Modeling, Calculus, Linear Algebra, Mathematics, Monte Carlo Simulations, Numerical Methods, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Principal Component Analysis (PCA), Backtesting Trading Strategies, Convex Optimization, Generalized Linear Model (GLM), Deep Learning, Regression, Gated Recurrent Unit (GRU), K-nearest Neighbors (KNN), Amazon RDS, Data Cleaning, CSS Selectors, Web Scraping, Graphite, Django Extension & Middleware, Ajax, Cloudinary, Code Review, Data, APIs, Reverse Engineering, Tornado, Distributed Systems, Generative Pre-trained Transformers (GPT), Big Data

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