Imperial College Research Software Community Newsletter - September 2022

What a month! Finally, after two years of only an online presence, the RSECon has returned and the whole community in the UK and beyond has been able to meet again, mingle and renew bonds. In addition, we have resumed the Imperial RS Community seminars, have more events in the pipeline and the support and enthusiasm for good quality software and proper data analysis workflows does not cease to grow.

We are very excited to see what the first term of the new academic year will bring and how the whole `` Imperial RS Community shines in these troublesome and uncertain times in politics, the economy and wellbeing. So, let the show begin!

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 Callum West, Software Developer Apprentice within the RSE Team:

I’m one of the fresh new faces joining the ICT Department through the Multiverse Apprenticeship scheme. We’ve spent the last 3 months developing our coding skills through a number of different projects and now I’m joining the RSE team to develop those skills further with even more exciting projects!

After graduating with a degree in Business and Marketing, I fell into a job managing digital advertising campaigns, a niche I’d find myself stuck in for the next 5 years. I eventually admitted defeat and accepted I wasn’t enjoying the career path I’d found myself in, deciding to instead explore my passing interest in coding. After spending a few months teaching myself all I could about Javascript and making a few projects of my own, I was lucky enough to be accepted into Imperial’s apprenticeship program. I have been thoroughly enjoying developing my newfound skills and expanding my skill base with new tools and languages.

Something that I’d always sought from a potential career was a sense of creation, having the product of my work be something I can be proud of. While learning to code I’ve put my all into creating numerous web apps and games, and I plan on bringing the same enthusiasm to the various projects I’ll be working on with RSE. Problem solving to achieve desired functionality is something I’m finding incredibly rewarding and enjoyable, and I’m very excited to be working with the RSE team so I can sink my teeth into more challenges.

Research Software of the Month

Our Research Software of the Month for September is the Global Health Policy Simulation model (Health-GPS).

The Health-GPS microsimulation tool supports researchers and policy makers in the analysis of the health and economic impacts of alternative measures to tackle chronic diseases and obesity in children. The model reproduces the characteristics of a population and simulates key individual event histories associated with key components of relevant behaviours, such as physical activity, and diseases such as diabetes or cancer.

The Health GPS microsimulation is being developed in collaboration between the Centre for Health Economics & Policy Innovation (CHEPI), Imperial College London; and INRAE, France; as part of the STOP project. The software architecture uses a modular design approach to provide the building blocks of the Health GPS application, which is implemented using object-oriented principles in Modern C++ programming language targeting the C++20 standard. With thorough and beautifully presented documentation, the tool is a fantastic example of how to create good quality software.

Health-GPS is the first participant in the new Open Source Booster Programme created by the RSE Team to support and enhance the impact and quality of open-source codes created at Imperial.

RSE Bytes


Blog posts, tools & more

Call for Research Software Community Committee Members

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 commitments 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 engage 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 organisation 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.

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 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.

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.