PhD in physical chemistry, theory. All my research experience was computation. A full time coder is a huge asset in a computation research group. They quickly become versed in the sorts of things they need to know - science wise - and contribute in that way. Really, how can you write code to solve a problem you don't understand? They are part of the group, actively participate in research, and are acknowledged with authorship. And since their tenure isn't limited by graduation, the next postdoc, or a professorship, they quickly become the most senior members of the group. If they have a PhD, they will become an assistant professor. However, these positions are very rare. As it's been pointed out, very few groups are large enough to support a full time programmer.