Imperial College Research Software Community Newsletter - MAY 2022

As summer comes closer and the British weather becomes as unstable as usual, we can start enjoying face-to-face gatherings and events of all sorts without the barrier of facemaks. Some of us had not met in person for the last couple of years. Some of us had not met in person at all, and established a productive working or personal relationship entirely online! It is a strange feeling to realise that people in reality is 3D and have a height, dress in a variety of ways, and move around. I had never thought about it until now.

With the good (sigh) weather of late spring comes hayfever and lots of news, events and initiatives, from within Imperial, across London and the South East RS communities and beyond, so take some time to relax and read through all the things that this month’s newsletter brings you directly to your inbox.

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 Ryan Smith, Senior RSE within the RSE Team:

I joined the RSE team only 3 weeks ago (please come and say hello!), coming from a position as a senior scientist at a biotech company which specialised in cell signalling technology. Since graduating in Physics, I began to develop a strong appreciation for multidisciplinary research after embarking on a bioinformatics PhD in which it became evident that the skills I developed during my training as a physicist were very applicable to the sorts of problems that biologists were facing in quantitative proteomics. Consequently, I found myself in a position where my ability to translate research questions into software that scientists could use in their research was having an immediate and observable impact.

Although I did not know it at the time, the greatest satisfaction I got from my role as a scientist came from the activities which were aligned more with those of a Research Software Engineer, rather than those of the traditional career path of an academic. In subsequent roles after my PhD, I began to inadvertently focus my efforts on – and develop a great appreciation for - software development and its best practices. And so, when I came across the Research Software Engineering community and learned of its beliefs and the nature of its work, the decision to make a career switch to an RSE role seemed like a no-brainer.

I am particularly excited for the opportunity to continue to develop and diversify my skills within my new role as an RSE, and to help to broaden the engagement of Imperial’s central RSE team both with my existing network and by working with researchers across Imperial and beyond.

Research Software of the Month

CHAMP is a HPC Access and Metadata Portal which provides an easy to use workflow for FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusabe) data generation and publication. Created by the RSE Team member Chris Cave-Ayland as part of one of the projects of the team, CHAMP provides a web based interface allowing submission of HPC workloads and subsequent one-click publication of the results to data repositories such as Zenodo.

CHAMP is written in Python using Django and has been developed as a Passenger App within the Open OnDemand (OOD) framework. This approach allows the portal to be very simple but also portable across a wide range of HPC infrastructure. OOD provides a consistent programmatic interface for interacting with a number of popular HPC resource managers. It also supports a wide range of authentication mechanisms.

If you are a registered user of the Imperial College HPC Service, you can access CHAMP via OpenOnDemand and then going to Jobs and selecting CHAMP in the top menu.

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 Diego Alonso Álvarez. All previous newsletters are available in our online archive.