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!
It’s not too late to register for Collaborations Workshop 2022 which takes place 4th-7th April 2022. The Software Sustainability Institute brings together experts from different fields to “explore best practices and the future of research software”.
The Computer History Museum in California and the Lost Women of Science Initiative are organising a virtual event on the 5th of April telling the story of Klári Dán von Neumann, who played a crucial role in the development of computer programming as we know it today, and who wrote the first modern-style code executed on a computer. Registration is free and can be made here.
Another initiative of the Software Sustainability Institute is the Research Software Camp: Next steps in coding. The Camp will be held from 16th to 27th May 2022 aiming to improve computational and training skills and explore existing resources. This is a fully online event and all of the sessions are free. Details about registrations will be published soon.
After the amazing efforts put in place in 2021 to organise the annual RSE conference virtually, this year RSECon2022 will be held in the Frederick Douglass Centre at Newcastle University, in person, from 6th to 8th September 2022. We will keep you posted with the different key dates, from here to the conference. At the moment, submissions (talks, posters, panels, walkthroughs and workshops) are open and you can also sign up as a reviewer.
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.
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.
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.
The market research company Ipsos are undertaking the first UK-wide Research and Innovation (R&I) Workforce Survey on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). This is a great opportunity to provide your views and inputs based on your experience as a member of the research and innovation workforce. If you would like to participate, you can find more details at https://ipsos.uk/RIworkforce.
Last month Thibault Lestang (Senior departmental RSE in Aeronautics at Imperial) co-organised a Code Review Workshop through the Software Sustainability Institute. The aim was to introduce code review, good practices and give attendees the chance to practice in groups. There is a recent blog post about the workshop on the SSI website. If you’re interested in code review, the workshop, or setting up code review within your research group, please do get in touch with Thibault. Thibault is also co-organising a mini workshop on Code Review next week as part of the Collaborations Workshop 2022.
RSLondon Software Carpentry - Call for helpers (May 9th-12th): The RSLondon community will be running another Software Carpentry workshop covering an introduction to the Bash shell, Git version control and Python over 4 days, 9th-12th May 2022. We’re looking for helpers who are able to join for a pair of sessions - either Bash and Git (Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th May) or Python parts 1 and 2 (Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th May). This is a great opportunity to get involved with Software Carpentry workshops and lead a breakout group of learners as part of the sessions. The workshop webpage is still being developed but it provides the full schedule and timings. Contact Jeremy Cohen via email or Imperial RS Community Slack if you’d like to volunteer or would like more information.
Imperial College Research Computing Services need to carry out essential maintenance on Imperial College HPC to address a number of items, including firmware and security updates. The scheduled maintenance will start on at 09:00 on Monday 4th of April and finish at 23:00 on Wednesday 6th of April. At the same time they are implementing some changes to the PBS queue configuration. To explain the changes they have released a new wiki page with the new job sizing guidance [require IC credentials]. These new queues will come into effect after the maintenance period in April 2022. The content of the web page is subject to change, so keep an eye on it.
DiveRSE is a new international talk series focusing on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research Software Engineering. The series aims to bring the talks, themes and discussions from an upcoming workshop - Vive la différence - Research Software Engineers - to a wider audience. The series was launched on 22nd March 2022 with a keynote talk “Normalizing inclusion by embracing difference” from Mary Ann Leung, Ph.D., Founder and Director of the Sustainable Horizons Institute. You can find more details (a link to the video from the session will be added this week) on the event page. More talks in this series will be added soon so do check the website for further details in the next couple of weeks.
If you missed the #RSE10Years celebrations, you may want at least to discover something about the workshop on 21 March 2012 when the term RSE was first used. And you can hear it from the voice of 7 of the workshop’s participants, in the Happy Birthday RSE episode of Code for Thought.
Rebooting gone wrong! - the first Software Horror Stories 10-minute episode is now available on the Code For Thought podcast. The stories are based on the Coding Confessions project. If you have an anecdote to share please consider submitting a confession or getting in touch at email@example.com.
For any of you interested in or actively working with functional programming, check out this recent episode of the StackOverflow podcast: “Is functional programming the hipster programming paradigm?”.
If you have grading duties for data science courses, you might find gradetools - an R package to support grading workflows useful. Gradetools supports grading assessments for which automated feedback is not possible.
What do machine learning projects and web interfaces have in common? Check it out in the latest entry of the Vanessasaurus blog.
Lost Women of Science is a podcast that tells stories “of female scientists who made groundbreaking achievements in their fields, yet remain largely unknown to the general public, and to inspire girls and young women to embark on careers in STEM.” The second season, telling the historical records of Klára Dán von Neumann, will start on March 31. You can also listen to the first season from the website.
This gem recently thrown up by Mass Spec/NMR Twitter (yes such a thing exists).
Sometimes a video is more effective than a thousand blog posts, so if you want to explain why Research needs Research Software Engineers you can use this nice video from NL-RSE to make your case stronger.
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.
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! firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This issue of the Research Software Community Newsletter was edited by Stefano Galvan. All previous newsletters are available in our online archive.