Welcome to July’s research software community newsletter. Summer has most definitely arrived, although I suspect the recent very hot weather may have been a little too much for some of us (and our computers too!). While holiday time may be approaching, or even here already, we have a packed issue for you this month with lots going on in the world of research software. Whether you’re relaxing on a beach somewhere or just hiding out indoors to avoid the heat, we have a range of blog posts and articles to help you keep occupied and up to date with what’s going on in the research software community!
This month we’ve also opened another call for research software community committee members. Why not think about starting the new academic year by joining our committee and helping to run the Imperial research software community? With in-person events very much underway again, there will be several opportunties to help with organising and running research software events following the summer break. See the RSE Bytes section for more information on volunteering to join the committee.
CarpentryCon 2022 takes place August 1st-12th, online. This is the biennial community conference for The Carpentries global community with an impressive programme of talks, panels and skills sessions. Registration is free.
The deadline for abstract submissions to the Research Software Engineers in HPC (RSE-HPC-2022) workshop is Friday 5th August. This workshop is taking place on Sunday 13th November as part of SuperComputing22.
Candidate nominations are open until the end of Friday 5th August for Society of Research Software Engineering Trustees. If you’re interesting in becoming a trustee, you can find lots of information on the Society’s 2022 Trustee Elections and AGM web page. The Society AGM will take place as part of RSECon22 on Wednesday 7th September at 17:00.
The 6th Annual RSE conference RSECon2022 will be held from 6th to 8th September 2022 in the Frederick Douglass Centre at Newcastle University. Tickets for in-person attendance are now sold out but look out for opportunities to engage with the conference sessions online. The conference programme is now available.
CoSeC (the Computational Science Centre for Research Communities) have a call for presentations for their CoSeC Annual Conference 2022. The deadline for abstract submissions is Friday 30th September 2022. The conference takes place on 1st December as part of Computing Insight UK.
The second Nordic-RSE online unconference is planned to take place on the 18th and 19th October (dates to be finalised). Save the dates. You can see more information at https://nordic-rse.org/events/2022-online-unconference/.
Our Research Software of the Month for July is SaBRe:
SaBRe is a selective binary rewriting system developed in the Software Reliability Group at Imperial College London that makes it easy to intercept system calls and function calls in program binaries in order to modify or enhance their operation.
We have used SaBRe to implement a fault injector, a fuzzer for networking applications, a fast system call tracer and a multi-version execution system. You can find out more about SaBRe from this talk at FOSDEM 2020 or a recent journal paper “SaBRe: Load-time Selective Binary Rewriting”.
SaBRe is open source and available on GitHub at https://github.com/srg-imperial/sabre/.
EPSRC have opened a new Access to High Performance Computing facilities call. This call provides an opportunity for projects within EPSRC’s remit to apply for time on High Performance Computing (HPC) resources such as ARCHER2 and a group of Tier-2 HPC resources. The deadline for technical assessment submissions is 20th September 2022 (at 16:00) and the main application closing date is 18th October 2022 (at 16:00). See the call page for further information.
RSLondonSouthEast2022 took place at Imperial on Monday 4th July 2022. Around 75 people attended the event, held in the Skempton Building on the South Kensington Campus. We had a fascinating keynote from Dr Anne Cori of Imperial’s MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis looking at some of the challenges around real-time modelling for infectious diseases and how research software is supporting the modelling processes. We also heard from EPSRC and had a programme of a further 12 talks delivered as either 15-minute full talks or 5-minute lightning talks. There were lots of opportunities to network with colleagues and with researchers and RSEs from across the London and South East region with attendees from more than 15 different organisations registering for the event. The workshop received excellent feedback along with some useful comments and suggestions to help us further improve future community events. Thanks to everyone who attended for helping to make RSLondonSouthEast 2022 a fun and informative workshop, and to our organising and programme committees who helped to make the event happen.
The report on the “Vive la différence - research software engineers” workshop that took place in April 2022 at the Lorentz Center in Leiden, The Netherlands, and online, is now available on Zenodo. The workshop looked at a number of aspects relating to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the research software community and some of the topics and discussions from the workshop are being brought to a wider audience through the ongoing DiveRSE seminar series.
The RSE team’s trial Code Surgeries are continuing in August. If you have an issue you want to discuss, book an appointment with a member of the team. Please provide relevant information (eg. a link to your software repository) so the RSE Team can review the material, prepare an appropriate response, and compile helpful resources that you can use to improve your software.
Unlike the existing HPC Clinics, meant to provide immediate support in relation to the College HPC Service and the RDS, the purpose of these surgeries is to provide long-term impact for custom code bases. Topics that may be covered in these sessions include software development best practices (version control, testing, code architecture, continuous integration), code review, software optimisation, packaging, distribution and publication.
As the surgeries are currently being run as a trial, your feedback will be invaluable in helping to shape the way the service is run when it is launched in full later in the year.
Imperial’s Research Software Community relies on its community committee to help keep these monthly newsletters appearing in your inbox, to run events and to advocate for the importance of good research software development practices across the College.
Some longstanding members of our committee are moving on due to work committments and we’re looking for at least two new committee members to help with running the community.
Why join the committee? Joining the committee provides a great opportunity to get more involved with research software at Imperial, help to make new connections and to build your network across departments and faculties within the College. You’ll also have the chance to provide your thoughts and input on the type of events the community should be running, how we engage with the College’s research community and to get actively involved in event organisation and research software training.
What do we ask of you? As a voluntary role, we ask that you commit to help out with the running of the community on a best efforts basis, contributing time and input as and when you’re able to, around the constraints of your main role. We expect committee members to edit an edition of the newsletter at least twice a year and encourage you to enagage with discussions in our community Slack workspace to help keep the community active. Other activities you might like to get involved with include event planning and organsation and keeping the website up to date. We also ask that you confirm with your supervisor/line manager that they’re happy for you to take on this role.
If you’re interested to join the committee or have questions, get in touch with Jeremy Cohen.
The video from July’s DiveRSE seminar on “Lessons from Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in open source software (OSS)” by Hana Frluckaj, University of Texas-Austin, is now available on the Society of Research Software Engineering’s YouTube channel.
In recent episodes of the Code for Thought podcast you can hear from Software Sustainability Institute Fellow Jesper Dramsch in the latest edition of the Meet the SSI Fellows series. Also check out the most recent episode covering Open Science and Research Software.
You can also hear from another SSI fellow, James Byrne, in his recent article “Lessons from my SSI fellowship: first half(ish)”
This month the RSE Stories podcast has spoken to Ana Trisovic, a Research Associate at Harvard School of Public Health and Sloan Fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, about Joys and Challenges with Big Research Data
The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has been running a series of blog posts on the REF. In a recent post, cross-posted by the Software Sustainability Institute and co-authored by a team involved with last year’s Hidden REF, the authors look at “What does Open Research mean for the future of the REF? The next REF could better recognise the diversity of roles contributing to research”. This article highlights various challenges that are likely to be familiar to research software engineers and also looks at the example of software in the context of research outputs.
Aim For Understandability If You Want To Write Good Research Software - a blog post released as part of the speed blog series from the Software Sustainability Institute’s Collaborations Workshop 2022. Also recently released in the same series: Hold the best meeting you ever attended looks at running hybrid events and Carpentries: Beyond the Basics considers how to move beyond teaching introductory-level material.
For anyone not familiar with the fantastic resource that is The Turing Way, we encourage you to take a look at the resources and information it provides on areas including reproducibility, communication, collaboration and ethical research.
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 AI/ML-related questions and discussion. 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 Jeremy Cohen. All previous newsletters are available in our online archive.