Imperial College Research Software Community Newsletter - December 2019

The holiday season is (almost) here and it’s the end of another year – we hope it’s been a successful one for you and you’ve learnt new skills and had the opportunity to expand your research software knowledge.

Our final newsletter of 2019 gives us the opportunity for a bit of a look back at what Imperial’s research software community and research software team have been doing this year. We have reviews of the community and team activities in 2019, but we’re not just looking back, we’re still bringing you the usual set of interesting news, blog posts and events and activities to look out for over the coming months.

Most importantly, we’d like to thank you, the members of Imperial’s research software community who have helped to ensure the community has continued to grow in 2019 – thanks for coming along to our events and for engaging with the community, we hope to see many of you at our events in the new year. Wishing you all the very best for the holidays and for 2020.

The Research Software Community Committee

What Did I Miss?

12th December: On Thursday 12th December, members of the community got together for our 1st Research Software Winter Seminars and Roundtable event organised by our committee member, and member of the Imperial RSE Team, Diego Alonso Álvarez. We had a number of short talks followed by some discussion about what people would like to see from the community in the coming year. We then continued the discussion over tea/coffee, mulled wine and snacks. Check out Diego’s blog post on the event to find out more.

Newsletters: Many thanks to all of our newsletter editors in 2019 - these monthly updates wouldn’t have been possible without them. If you missed any of the previous editions, the full archive of back issues is available online.

Upcoming Events and Deadlines

9th-10th January 2020: DevOps for better software and reproducible research sprint, London. An open event for RSEs, researchers and those interested in making research software more robust through DevOps, CI/CD, testing, and automation among other practices.

15th January 2020: Towards Reproducible and Open Research - Diego Alonso Álvarez from the RSE team will be one of the speakers at this event taking place on the evening of the 15th Jan.

27th-28th January 2020: EPCC will be coming to Imperial College to give a class on advanced MPI. Registration is now open.

5th February: The annual RSLondonSouthEast workshop will be preceeded by an Open Research London event on the evening on Wednesday 5th of February, taking place at the Institute of Physics. The theme of this event is “the importance and challenges of sharing research software”. More details and registration are available on the Eventbrite page.

6th February: RSLondonSouthEast 2020 will take place at The Royal Society. This is a full-day event consisting of talks, discussion and opportunities for networking. There will be two keynote speakers: James Hetherington, incoming Director of e-Infrastructure, UKRI and Camilla Longden, Microsoft Research. Registration will close in late Janaury.

Save the Dates

26th/28th February 2020 and 18th/20th March 2020: Next term the Research Computing Service will be running two new software engineering courses through the Graduate School. These will focus on the tools and techniques of modern software development that are applicable across research disciplines and programming languages. The lessons are entitled “Using Git to Code, Collaborate and Share” and “Essential Software Engineering for Researchers”. Only basic programming experience is required to attend either course and like other Graduate School courses you receive credit towards completion of your programme. For more details and to reserve a place see here.

31st March-2st April 2020: Collaborations Workshop 2020 (CW20), Belfast. The Software Sustainability Institute’s hands-on annual workshop that brings together people with an interest in research software, from across academia and industry. Registration is now open.

3rd-5th June 2020: 2020 International Workshop on Software Engineering for Computational Science (ICCS), Amsterdam. The SE4Science workshop will take place in conjunction with ICCS. The SE4Science call for papers is currently open and the submission deadline is 6th January 2020.

Imperial RSE: Review of the year

A review of the RSE team’s activities in 2019

See Mark Woodbridge’s blog post reviewing the RSE team’s activities in 2019.

Imperial’s Research Software Community - 2019 in review

It’s now over 4 years since the research software community at Imperial was set up. We end 2019 with our research software community mailing list having exceeded 200 members and a number of events and training courses behind us that the community has run or supported in the past year.

The year began with the first instalment of our monthly newsletter. Our 8 volunteer committee members have worked hard throughout the year to keep up to date with what’s going on in the world of research software engineering, both within the UK and internationally, bringing you details of a variety of different events, activities and online material to help you keep you updated. Each month a different committee member has edited the newsletter. We’re always looking for guest editors so as we move into 2020, why not volunteer to edit one of our newsletters over the coming months. It’s a great way to support the community with only a small, one-off time commitment.

We have continued to work closely with the Research Software Team, who are also represented on our committee, co-organising events and collaborating to help raise the profile of Research Software Engineering at all levels within the College.

The first of our two department-specific research software events this year took place in January in the Department of Materials. The event attracted a large audience from the local department with a number of attendees from the wider community who were interested in the domain. Following a set of talks, attendees participated in a discussion session over lunch, looking at how research software is built and used in Materials. In May, our second such event took place, focusing on the Department of Physics.

We have hosted technical talks at both the South Kensington and St Mary’s Campuses this year and are keen to run talks at other Imperial campuses in 2020. Additionally we ran a hackathon for Hacktoberfest, and in collaboration with the Research Software London community, we have also been involved in events run at other institutions.

Members of the community have been heavily involved as instructors and/or helpers with Software Carpentry workshops at Imperial and also contributed to the first RSLondon regional Software Carpentry workshop in July which was co-organised with UCL and Queen Mary, who hosted the event.

Finally, as highlighted in the RSE team review, we have also been in involved in attending and speaking at various research software events within the UK and internationally. Members of the community attended and spoke at the RSE conferences for the UK (RSEConUK 2019), Germany (deRSE19) and the Netherlands (NL-RSE19) over the last few months, providing a great opportunity to highlight our community as a strong example of a local research software community and to promote the research software activities that we are undertaking at Imperial.

We are looking forward to another interesting year for the community in 2020 where it is hoped that we can grow further and organise and run more research software activities for our members. Thanks to all our members who have helped to sustain the community through attending events and workshops and we hope to see you at more events in the coming year.

Jeremy Cohen, RSE Fellow and Research Software Community Committee Chair

Call for new committee members

The research software community is run by a committee of 8 volunteers. We’re always looking for new committee members to help bring new ideas, organise events, edit our newsletters and generally help in making the community work for its members. If you’d like to get involved, or you have any questions, contact Jeremy Cohen.

Imperial Research Software Community Slack workspace

A new Slack workspace is now available for members of the local research software community and RSEs based at nearby institutions. This has been set up as a result of discussions at the recent Winter Seminars event and you can join the workspace via this link.

Research Software of the Month

Our final RSotM of 2019 is… The Imperial Research Software Directory (RSD). The directory was featured in the College’s latest Open Research Newsletter and is itself open source. The number of libraries and applications featured continues to grow, and further submissions are warmly welcomed. Contact Mark Woodbridge for further information.

The projects associated with Imperial that have previously featured as RSoTM in 2019 (and are also listed in the RSD) are CPL library, TensorLayer, BigDFT, PyFR, Solcore, Nektar++, Devito, Orderly and effmass.

RSE Bytes

Your Monthly Reminder…

Get in Touch, Get Involved!

That’s all for this month, and for 2019! Thanks to everyone who suggested links for this edition. If you’d like anything included in the newsletter, have ideas about how it could be improved, or would even like to guest-edit a future edition then drop us a line at And if you’re reading this on the web and would like to receive the next newsletter directly to your inbox then please subscribe to our RSE Community Mailing List here.

This issue of the Research Software Community Newsletter was edited by Jeremy Cohen and Mark Woodbridge. All previous newsletters are available in our online archive.