Imperial College Research Software Community Newsletter - March 2022

Hello community. March is almost over, but it brought us a taste of spring and the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the term “RSE” and of the Research Software Engineering movement (#RSE10Years). In a decade, the RSE community (inside and outside Imperial College) has grown a lot and the role has started to be properly recognised by institutions.

Those are amazing achievements, but what should we do now? We should start working on new awesome challenges and endeavours to make the RSE community even more relevant in the next 10 years. So, while enjoying the (hopefully) nice weather, please consider the many opportunities highlighted in this month’s newsletter, with in person gatherings, useful readings, interesting technologies. Happy RSE spring!

Dates for your diary

Research Computing at Imperial

Continuing our series highlighting key members of the College community helping to provide, manage and support research computing and research software services, this month we have an introduction from Jeremy Cohen.

Jeremy writes:

I have a background in Computer Science and have been involved with research computing and research software for a number of years as both a Software Engineer and researcher. I am currently an Advanced Research Fellow within the Department of Computing and Director of Research Software Engineering Strategy as part of the Academic Leadership Team for Imperial’s Research Computing Service.

In my work building software to support research, prior to the existence of the term “Research Software Engineer”, I observed some of the challenges of a software development-focused research role. While I wasn’t aware of it at the time others were also looking for more sustainable software-focused roles within research and this ultimately led to the development of the Research Software Engineering community and the coining of the term Research Software Engineer (RSE) in 2012.

To help provide a forum for networking, sharing knowledge and ideas and offering support to researchers and software engineers at Imperial whose work involves developing research software, I started Imperial’s Research Software Community in 2015. The community now numbers more than 300 people across its different communication channels.

In 2017 I was awarded one of EPSRC’s Research Software Engineering fellowships which has allowed me to undertake a much wider range of activities within the RSE space, both at Imperial and in the wider national and international communities. In 2018 I started RSLondon the first regional research software community focusing on the London and South East of England region but with the aim of acting as a blueprint for the set up of other regional RSE groups within the UK. This is something that is now starting to happen through the Society of Research Software Engineering’s Regional Communities Special Interest Group. I am also undertaking research into the models and structures around RSE itself, including looking at the economics of RSE and being part of the group who proposed the Four Pillars of Research Software Engineering. I am actively involved in training, supporting both members of the local Imperial community and the wider RSE community with Software Carpentry workshops and training on using containers. As the RSE community grows, it is important to ensure that we are aware of and can address challenges in the area of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) to ensure that we grow an open and inclusive community. I’ve been involved in research in this area (e.g. a recent paper on “_Understanding Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Challenges Within the Research Software Community_”) and also in supporting/organising other EDI-related activities such as a panel at last year’s SeptembRSE workshop on _Missing narratives in discussions around diversity and inclusion in research software engineering_ and more recently the DiveRSE talk series.

I look forward to seeing RSE continue to develop over the coming years and to remaining part of a community that is helping to support the development of high-quality research outputs that are robust, sustainable and produce reproducible results.

Research Software of the Month

This month we present SU2, an open-source suite for multiphysics simulation and design.

SU2 is an open-source multiphysics analysis and design optimization software developed by a worldwide community of volunteers. The flow solvers available in SU2 cover a wide range of applications from incompressible to hypersonic flows, inviscid, laminar, or turbulent (RANS, DES, LES). These solvers can be used together with the native radiation, heat transfer, and structural solvers to solve rich multiphysics problems. Furthermore, a Python wrapper allows interfacing SU2 with third-party solvers. A key feature of SU2 is being able to obtain design variable sensitivities for any problem via the discrete adjoint method, this enables SU2’s design optimization capabilities.

The SU2 Foundation was created in 2019, and it has since been maintaining the technical infrastructure and promoting development by offering technical guidance (weekly developer meetings) and by organizing yearly conferences (see 2020 and 2021 editions). If you want to learn more about what SU2 can do, you can watch the conference recordings. Otherwise, to start using SU2 visit the docs and tutorials pages.

RSE Bytes


Blog posts, tools & more

Some reminders…

RS Community coffee

…continues weekly via Teams - normally on Friday afternoons at 3pm but check our Slack workspace for exact times and connection details.

RS Community Slack

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.

Research Computing Tips

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.

Research Software Directory

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.

Get in Touch, Get Involved!

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!

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 Research Software Community Mailing List.

This issue of the Research Software Community Newsletter was edited by Stefano Galvan. All previous newsletters are available in our online archive.