Hello Imperial RSEs and researchers. I hope you’ve been having a good summer - even though, if you’ve been in London, the weather has made it feel somewhat less like summer over recent weeks! If you’ve taken some time off then I hope you’ve had an enjoyable break. This was intended to be a somewhat cut down summer edition of the newsletter, however, with lots going on, we’ve ended up providing the usual array of events, news and announcements to keep you up to date with what’s happening over the coming weeks. I hope you’ll find some interesting research software-related activities or articles in this month’s selection to help keep you engaged and informed as we head towards the start of the new academic year.
Over the next few months, in our new “Research Computing at Imperial” feature, we’ll be introducing some of the people at Imperial who are helping to provide the various research software and research infrastructure resources and services that are available to support the College’s research community. This month we have an introduction from Andrew Richards, Imperial’s new Head of Research Computing Services, based in ICT. Our regular Research Software of the Month feature is taking a summer break and will be back next month.
In this month’s newsletter:
To kick off this new series of introductions from key members of the College community helping to run, manage and support research computing and research software services, we’re delighted to welcome Andrew Richards, Imperial’s new Head of Research Computing Services:
I would like to introduce myself as the new Head of Research Computing Services in ICT. I joined at the beginning of July 2021, and I am looking forward to working with the RSE community across the college. The central RSE team in RCS has a key role to play in being a part of, and supporting, the broader college RSE activities.
My personal background has been in the higher education and research council large facilities sector for over 20 years. I have always enjoyed developing research computing infrastructure from HPC to grid to cloud and the interdependence on software that can fully make use of these platforms.
Having recently taken on the role, the most important aspects for me now are understanding the essential needs of researchers across the college and I would be happy to meet directly with anyone for a one-to-one session to discuss thoughts and ideas on how RCS can continue to improve its offering across computing infrastructure and software development areas to underpin research at Imperial.
Please get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find further details about Andrew’s role on the Imperial website.
After a two-year gap, the annual RSE conference is back this year but in a rather different format. SeptembRSE, the 5th Conference of Research Software Engineers will take place online throughout the month of September. Registration for the conference is open at £35 for non-members of the Society of RSE and £15 for Society members. See the registration page for more details. The timetable is now live showing the huge range of sessions that the conference will host between the 6th and 30th September.
Our research software community “DeepLearners” group will be having an informal technical discussion session on Thursday 26th August, 4-5pm via Teams. Join us for the chance to chat about AI and machine learning, meet other members of the group and tell us about something interesting you’ve been working on, or a problem you’re stuck with and would like some advice on. Find join details on our Slack workspace or email Jeremy Cohen for the link.
If you’re invovled in performance optimisation of HPC codes, the ARCHER2 team are running a two-day course Performance Optimisation on AMD EPYC on the 7th and 8th September. The course is free to attend and registration is still open, although please note the prerequisite experience highlighted on the course page if you’re planning to register.
The 11th international Women in HPC workshop will take place as part of Supercomputing 21 on Sunday 14th November 2021. The Call for Lightning Talks is currently open and the deadline for submissions is 8th September 2021.
We’ve featured this before but with the next deadline approaching, we’re again highlighting the HPC-Europa3 Transnational Access visitor programme. The deadline for applications is 9th September 2021.
The 17th IEEE International Conference on eScience (eScience 2021) will take place virtually, 20th-23rd September. In addition to the keynotes and paper presentations, the conference includes a number of tutorials on topics that are likely to be of interest to members of the RSE community, for example, GPU code optimisation and building containers for scientific computing. The discounted registration rate is available until 31st Aug.
The Workshop on Sustainable Software Sustainability 2021 (WoSSS21) takes place from the 6th-8th October 2021. Registration is currently open.
A reminder of EPSRC’s Software for research communities call that we highlighted last month. The call is aimed at supporting a community-driven approach to the development and maintenance of software. The deadline for the intention to submit - a required step - is the 14th September and the deadline for submission of full proposals is the 14th October. If you’re already preparing a submission for this call, a reminder that you can get in touch with Imperial’s RSE Team to find out how they can support your application - or be part of it!
The Software Sustinability Institute will run its Fellowship Programme again in 2022 and the programme will open for applications on the 9th September 2021. See this page for information and details of how to sign up to receive updates.
CodingConfessions: Normalising failure in research software: Have you made a mistake while coding, perhaps something that has resulted from a bad software development practice that you’ve adopted? If you don’t mind telling the community about it, and contributing to helping others avoid such mistakes in the future, you can submit your confession to CodingConfessions as well as taking a look at confessions others have submitted.
Looking a little way ahead to November, we’ll again be running some Software Carpentry workshop sessions in collaboration with UCL and other institutions thro ugh the RSLondon community. If you’re interested to get involved as a helper or to have an opportunity to instruct at one of these sessions, contact Jeremy Cohen.
Something that we’re very much aware of in our local community is that there are lots of opportunities available for basic RSE training, for example through Software Carpentry workshops. However, finding courses or suitable online material to provide training at a more intermediate level, once you know the basics, can be a bit more challenging. The Software Sustainability Institute recently posted another of the blog posts from the Collaborations Workshop 2021 speed blog series: How do you help build intermediate software engineering skills and help people go beyond the basics?. The team that prepared this post, including one of our own community members, Adrian D’Alessadro, from the RSE team, raise a number of interesting ideas and suggestions about possible routes to provide intermediate training.
The latest episode of the RSE Stories podcast is out. In “When I Couldn’t Go to Work” Vanessa Sochat talks to Robin Wilson, a freelance Research Software Engineer, about his route into freelance research software development work and his past research and work experience.
Beyond technical fixes: the role of research software engineering in creating fairer and accountable socio-technical systems a blog post by 2021 SSI Fellow Yadira Sánchez.
…continues weekly via Teams - normally on Friday afternoons at 3pm but check our Slack workspace for exact times and connection details.
The Imperial Research Software Community Slack workspace is a place for general community discussion as well as featuring channels for individuals interested in particular tools or topics. If you’re an OpenFOAM user, why not join the #OpenFOAM channel where regular code review sessions are announced (amongst other CFD-related discussions…). Users of the Nextflow workflow tool can find other Imperial Nextflow users in #nextflow. You can find other R developers in #r-users and there is the #DeepLearners channel for our new AI/ML group. Take a look at the other available channels by clicking the “+” next to “Channels” in the Slack app and selecting “Browse channels”. If you want to start your own group around a tool, programming language or topic not currently represented, feel free to create a new channel and advertise it in #general.
See the Research Computing Service’s Research Computing Tips series for a variety of helpful tips for using RCS resources and related tools and services.
Imperial’s Research Software Directory provides details of a range of research software and tools developed by groups and individuals at the College. If you’d like to see your software included in the directory, you can open a pull request in the GitHub Repository or get in touch with the Research Software Community Committee.
Drop us a line with anything you’d like included in the newsletter, ideas about how it could be improved… or even offer to guest-edit a future edition! email@example.com.
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This issue of the Research Software Community Newsletter was edited by Jeremy Cohen. All previous newsletters are available in our online archive.