Newsletter – April 2021

Please pass this newsletter on to any of your colleagues who might be interested.

Welcome to the April newsletter from The Society of Research Software Engineering! Our monthly newsletter will announce new Society initiatives, gather RSE news, events, blogs, papers and anything else interesting and relevant together in one place. If you would like to add an item or suggest a new section to the next newsletter, submit it via this short form or get in touch with Claire Wyatt, RSE Community Manager.

Newsletter Contents:
>Society Update
>Announcements
>RSE Case Studies and Profiles
>Events
>Podcasts
>Talks
>Papers
>Blog posts
>Community info
>RSE Worldwide

Society Update

SeptembRSE – SocRSE’s 2021 Conference Announced

SocRSE’s 2021 Conference will be online only and run throughout September! Known as SeptembRSE, an email has gone out to all on our mailing list (plus it was announced on the RSE Slack space) and on 29th April 2021 the co-chairs – Christopher Woods and Martin Callaghan – presented the conference format and answered questions. The recording of this event is available here. If you would like to volunteer for the conference committee, please email the organisers.

The EPSRC 2021 RSE Fellowships have been awarded – Congratulations to all! Where the home institution has announced the award we have included a link.

  • Eilis Hannon from University of Exeter,
  • Heather Turner from University of Warwick,
  • Peter Hill from University of York,
  • James Knight from University of Sussex,
  • Domhnall Carlin from Queen’s University of Belfast,
  • Thomas Dowrick from University College London,
  • Edward Bennett from Swansea University,
  • Andrew Brown from Queen’s University of Belfast.

Over the next few months we will feature each of the new fellows in our RSE Fellows’ blog. As with all research council fellowships and awards, the competition was thought to be fierce. Commiserations to the numerous applicants – some of whom are SocRSE members – who didn’t quite make it this time around.

Many congratulations to our very own SocRSE trustee Marion Weinzierl, named as one of 6 trailblazing women in HPC!

A vital aspect of research is developing research software. And Marion Weinzierl’s work focuses on improving that process for the research community that relies on it. As the research software engineer (RSE) theme leader of the N8 Centre of Excellence for Computationally Intensive Research (N8 CIR), she helps researchers use HPC through training, consultancy and hands-on support. Further, she also is involved in some RSE training that enables the exchange of supercomputing knowledge and skills. “I believe that targeting RSEs is particularly beneficial in bringing HPC forward,” she says. “If we train a researcher or an academic, it will help them in their work. But if we train an RSE, it will potentially help a lot of researchers that they work with.”

As an RSE and computational scientist, one of the projects she works on, ExaClaw, involves code coupling and visualization for tsunami simulations; another seeks to add to MetOffice’s space weather prediction suite by using coupled codes for simulations..

“Raising the profile of RSEs, and working with, for and as an RSE, helps lots of use cases,” she adds. “I really like acting as interface and facilitator between researchers, research teams or research field.

SocRSE trustees ran a CW21 workshop! See updates from Teri and Marion (below), and Teri’s blog post.

Trustee Updates

You can keep up to date with trustee meetings as we have shared a summary of Society monthly trustee meetings including the decision log. And, Trustee role descriptions are on our website now.

The trustees had our usual monthly meeting on the 16th April 2021 and continue to work hard on various initiatives. As before, we provide updates from some of the trustees below to give you more detail on the types of things we are working on.

Paul Richmond (President): The most significant and important part of progress this month has been the announcement of our new conference. I have been working with the conference chairs and the society events team to bring the proposal for the conference format to vote this month at our trustee meeting. It passed unanimously and the planning for this event has now passed over to the events team and conference sub-committee.

Following our decision in January to make governance improvements, I have been spending rather a lot of time (working with the governance sub-group) to introduce a number of key policies and improvements to areas of our society operation. At the April Trustee meeting I introduced items for vote on:
1) Adoption of formal declarations of interest which will be published on our website
2) A Conflicts of Interest policy
3) Approval of a table of delegation which was completed by the governance sub-group (Myself, Claire and Teri)
4) An EDI policy
5) Adoption of mandatory EDI training for trustees
Further to this. myself and Teri completed a full governance review based off the Charity Governance Code which we adopted in January. As part of this we have identified areas for ongoing further work and improvement.

I have been meeting with a number of external stakeholders to get advice (and personal mentoring) in terms of how to influence policy to meet the objectives of our previously published strategy.

Teri Forey, Secretary: This month I’ve mostly been working with the RSE Role Diversity subgroup, analysing the data that we got from the CW21 mini-workshop. Although there’s still more analysis we can do (isn’t there always!), I’ve written the main findings up into a blog post which is accessible on our website. The mini-workshop gave us some great ideas on what we can do next to better understand our community but also on how the Society can support the full range of RSE job types. 

Another thing that came out of the excellent CW21 un-conference was a desire to get a conversation started between RSEs and funders on how software maintenance can be better supported. With that in mind I’m going to start planning an event where we can get community members and research funders into a room to brainstorm ideas. This is still at a very early stage but if you have any suggestions on what you’d like to see at such an event please do get in touch by emailing me at [email protected]

Matt Williams, Treasurer: I have continued work on moving our accounting over to the online system which will make my job much easier! Preparation for the conference has also started, which I am very much looking forward to. Plenty of small behind-the-scenes jobs were done too to keep the society ticking along.

Kirsty Pringle, Vice Treasurer: I’ve been working with the mentoring subcommittee to look at different types of mentorship scheme to try and design a scheme that would work well for our community.  I have been involved in the RSE role diversity subgroup which held an event at CW21, the aim of this work is to look for different “types” or RSE roles so we can ensure that the society is catering for a diverse range of RSEs.

James Graham, Infrastructure Lead: As the trustee responsible for much of the Society’s digital infrastructure, my work is driven my the needs of the other trustees and is not always public-facing. This month I’ve supported SeptembRSE and the membership and comms groups with their infrastructure requirements, reviewed many of the Society’s draft policy documents prior to voting, and begun work to make our website infrastructure more resilient (you may have noticed occasional downtimes in the last few months – these should be resolved soon).

Ian Cottam, Membership Team: We have a members’ benefit announcement: Dell UK will provide up to 20% discount on a range of their products to our paid-up members. Both personal and business purchases are available. This offer is for our UK-based members only, but members based overseas can mail [email protected] to see if similar is available in their countries. We are finalising the details, which we will broadcast to members shortly. The following text has been supplied by Dell UK: 

“Dell UK is proud to partner with The Society of Research Software Engineering to provide a range of discounts on selected IT and other benefits to your members.  These include: up to 20% discount off laptops, desktops and accessories; access to our highly trained Small Business Technology Advisors to help members with free advice to grow their business; dedicated account manager to work with your membership team.”

A quick check this month shows that some 93% of our members are based in the UK. The remaining 7% are from various European countries, Australia as well as the USA. Our membership total stands at 420 (as of 29 April 2021).

Marion Weinzierl, Communications Team, RSE Role Diversity working group: This month we continued our work in the RSE Role Diversity working group. We helped Teri preparing the mini-workshop on “The RSE Landscape – what is your RSE type, and how do you want to develop it” for CW21, and discussed how to best use its results and how to continue our work (spoiler: it probably will involve more surveys and more workshops…). We also introduced a new section in this newsletter with RSE case studies. In the Communications team I’ve started writing our communications review and plan, which involves thinking about ways to improve on the various channels we use for communication with our community and stakeholders. I have also written a review about SORSE including the community feedback we collected at the Finale event, and presented it to the other trustees in our trustee meeting. An edited version (without the data from the feedback session) is now available as a blog post.

Ania Brown, mentoring working group lead: The mentoring working group is continuing to plan the structure of the mentoring scheme, while opening talks with two potential organisations to work with to develop and manage the scheme. On the planning front, we are hoping to include the opportunity for participants to attend group training and networking sessions, and are keen to hear what topics you would be interested in. These would ideally be non-technical and applicable to any RSEs, such as the opportunity to interview RSE leaders about different career pathways, or training in communication techniques. If you would be interested in a topic or have enjoyed a particular short training course that you would like to recommend, please send the details to [email protected]

Claire Wyatt, Vice President and RSE Community Manager: Since coming back after Easter, I have been working on the launch of the RSE Conference for 2021, known as SeptembRSE, and am also finalising several governance policies: Terms of Reference between the conference committee and SocRSE, the Trustee Code of Conduct, and our Communications and Publicity policy including a stakeholders document

Society Events and Initiatives Funding Policy

The RSE Society is able to provide financial support for events and initiatives which support our mission statement and charitable objectives (see our constitution section). These are summarized below.

Society’s Charitable Mission Statement: “Our mission is to establish a research environment that recognises the vital role of software in research. We work to increase software skills across everyone in research, to promote collaboration between researchers and software experts, and to support the creation of an academic career path for Research Software Engineers.

The objectives of the RSE Society are:

  • To advance education particularly but not exclusively amongst research software engineers; and/or 
  • To promote and advance research particularly but not exclusively in all aspects of research that rely on software engineering and to publish the useful results.

See our strategy for 2020/2021 for further details about our planned activities to support these objectives.

Read the full SocRSE Events and Initiatives Sponsorship Policy here. 

Membership and Mailing list

Thanks and welcome to all who have joined the Society in the last month. New members of both the Society and the mailing list are always welcome! We have exactly 420 paid-up members with several thousand people forming the online community on the RSE Slack space.  Sign up for membership! There are three options for payment: credit card, debit card or direct debit.

Currently the members benefits are:

  • Support the work of the Society to further research software engineering
  • Eligible to apply for any future opportunities for Society funding
  • Opportunity for early registration to the Society annual conference
  • Opportunity for early registration to any future Society’s professional and networking events
  • Eligible to vote in Society decisions such as electing trustees or changing the constitution
  • Eligible to stand for election as a trustee
  • Eligible to be a volunteer or be nominated for working groups or committees that the trustees may establish
  • Up to 20% discount on a variety of Dell laptops, desktops and accessories (UK-based members)

RSE Slack space and channels

There are 120 public slack channels in the RSE space that you can join so feel free to explore by clicking on the +  on the left hand side, next to ‘Channels’ and then ‘Browse Channels’. If you joined the slack space recently, you were automatically added to these channels:- #general, #random, #introductions– where we can all get to know each other more and hear about you and your work,  #jobs – where you can post and see new vacancies and #events – to read and post about any relevant interesting events, and the #training channel.  If you’ve been here a while you might not be in those channels so use the + to join them and browse all the other channels available. We’d like to encourage everyone to introduce themselves in the #introductions channel…Connect to the RSE Community by joining the RSE Slack https://society-rse.org/about/contact/

RSE Vacancies – You can post an RSE role or a role supporting RSEs to the vacancy page on the Society website via a form.

Announcements

The Series of Online Research Software Events has come to an end! After more than half a year, SORSE has ended with a big Finale event on March 24.  Read this blog post for a short review of this brilliant events series from a Society perspective.

The #SORSE YouTube channel has all the recordings, so if you’ve missed any of our sessions, check it out

Celebrating all research outputs! The hidden REF is a competition that recognises all research outputs and every role that makes research possible. Enter the competition
The committee has crowd-sourced submission categories to construct a broad set of categories that they hope will recognise everyone who contributes to the success of research. Submissions opened on 14 December 2020. They will be reviewed by panels drawn from across the research community and winners will be announced in May 2021. If you would like to enter your work, or nominate a person who has been vital to your research, please complete a submission! The more submissions it receives, the more evidence we have to campaign for broadening the research community’s definition of what it means to contribute to research. Find out more about the hidden REF. Q&A – unpacking the secrets of the hidden REF. Note that, in response to the latest UK lockdown, the Hidden REF submission deadline has been extended to 14 May 2021.

RSE Case Studies and Profiles

In this new category, which we hope to make a regular feature, we want to present Research Software Engineering case studies and Research Software Engineer profiles, in order to show all the shapes and forms that RSEs come in, and all the brilliant work they do.

We would also like to add new case studies and profiles to our website. 

If you are willing to work with us on a case study about your work and/or your career, please contact us.

Let us also point you to the N8 CIR website, which features some very well put-together Research Software Engineering case studies: here.

Events

An ongoing series of workshops courtesy of Imperial College: GUIs for Research Software.

GPU Hackathons in Europe 2021

The GPU Hackathon program is designed to help scientists, researchers and developers to accelerate and optimize their applications on GPUs. The hackathons are four day intensive hands-on events designed to help computational scientists port their applications to GPUs using libraries, OpenACC, CUDA and other tools by pairing participants with dedicated mentors experienced in GPU programming and development. 

Domain scientists are paired with experienced GPU mentors to learn the critical accelerated and parallel computing skills needed by the scientific community.

Today, more than 1800 domain experts from premier universities, research centres, and high performance computing centers around the world have been trained and over 400 scientific applications have been ported in part or completely to GPUs.

Throughout this year there will be multiple GPU Hackathons taking place in Europe. Don’t miss your chance to attend one these GPU Hackathons and work with experts to get the latest updates on programming models, best practices and tools for using and optimizing your codes on GPU.

Site Dates Submission Deadline
IDRIS May 17,25-27 March 17th
CINECA June 14,21-23 April 14th
CSCS Sep 20,28-30 July 13th
ENCCS Dec 7,14-16 Oct 6th

The full schedule is available at www.gpuhackathons.org/events

May

csv,conf,v6 4-5 May 2021, online (free)
A community conference for data makers everywhere csv,conf,v6 is a community driven data conference. It’s an event that’s not literally about CSV file format, but rather about what CSV represents in regards to our wider community ideals (data interoperability, hackability, simplicity, etc.).

Keynotes: From a spreadsheet to critical data infrastructure: building The COVID Tracking Project (Julia Kodysh, Michal Mart, Kevin Miller, Kara Schechtman); Race Matters in Health Data (Dr. Kadija Ferryman); Datasette and Dogsheep: Liberating your personal data (Simon Willison).

In cooperation with the Open Reproducible Data Science and Statistics group (ORDS) at the University of Rostock, the Thuringian Competence Network Research Data Management is organising an online ReproHack on 11 May 2021 from 9:30-14:30.Detailed information, the full programme and registration can be found on the event page of the ORDS group in Rostock.

US-RSE virtual workshop in May!

The 2021 US-RSE Virtual Workshop will be held on two non-consecutive half days: May 24 and 27, 2021, 1-4pm ET/12-3pm CT/10am-1pm PT.

The theme of the workshop is “A Path forward for Research Software Engineers.” The workshop will feature talks, community events, and working group sessions. It will be held via Zoom and some parts, such as the talks, will be recorded and available after the workshop via the US-RSE YouTube channel. The workshop will be free but registration will be required.

June

Bristol Data Week 2021 – SocRSE trustee Matt Williams writes: The Jean Golding Institute at the University of Bristol is excited to announce Data Week Online 2021, a jam-packed week of complimentary workshops, renowned speakers and interactive events showcasing the latest in Data Science and AI. All events are free to attend for anyone around the world.

If you work at the interface of software engineering and computational science, consider submitting a paper to the next International Workshop on Software Engineering for Computational Science, which will take place as part of the International Conference on Computational Science (ICCS), 16-18 June, 2021. 

The Workshop on Performance Engineering, Modelling, Analysis, and Visualization Strategy (PERMAVOST) is calling for papers. Submission deadline: March 31, 2021 (extended). We are looking to gain perspectives from performance tools developers as well as domain scientists, and application developers on how to better understand their code performance and create a best practice in analysing and arrange a performance improvement strategy. PERMAVOST is going to be an online event in conjunction with ACM HPDC 2021 that will be held in June.

September

The HPC Autumn Academy, hosted by the Centre for Scientific Computing at the University of Cambridge, will be online again this year, 6th-17th September 2021. Lectures will be given on C++, Fortran, Performance Programming, OpenMP, MPI, and various other topics suitable for Master’s/Ph.D. students, early-career researchers, and early-career industrial software developers who need High-Performance Computing skills as part of their course or work. If you know any students or colleagues who would benefit from this, please encourage them to book a place. If you have any questions, please contact [email protected] .

6th OpenMP Developer Conference and 4th Euro-OpenMP User Conference

 These two conferences are joining forces this year, and will be in Bristol in September (https://openmpcon.org/ and https://openmpusers.org/). 

These conferences are extremely relevant to RSEs, since they are user experience focused, and looking for results from users, rather than language designers. The call for submissions is now open at https://openmpcon.org/call-for-submissions/ with a deadline on 14 June 2021. For talks a short (500-1000 word) abstract is all that is required, and  the aim is a presentation/video, rather than a paper.

 Topics for 2021 include, but are not limited to:

  • Development tools, including compilers, debuggers and profilers and reference implementations
  • HPC frameworks and libraries developed with OpenMP
  • Performance and portability, including benchmarking
  • Proposed OpenMP extensions
  • Using OpenMP on accelerators and GPUs
  • Best practices for using OpenMP, including Gotchas and FAQ’s
  • Comparisons with other parallel programming languages
  • The use of OpenMP in any scientific or high-performance computing (HPC) application domain

As well as full presentations, there are also opportunities to propose tutorials, workshops, posters and Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions.

The full call for participation is at https://openmpcon.org/call-for-submissions/.

17th International Workshop on OpenMP

IWOMP is the annual workshop dedicated to the promotion and advancement of all aspects of parallel programming with OpenMP.  It is the premier forum to present and discuss issues, trends, recent research ideas, and results related to parallel programming with OpenMP.

IWOMP 2021 will be hosted by the High Performance Computing research group at the University of Bristol, UK.

Podcasts

New episodes of the Code for Thought podcast:

New episodes of the RSE Stories podcast:

  • A chat with Frank Löffler, and hear a story that starts with science and transitions into community building and leadership. This is one of the great founder stories of the podcast for @RSE_de, and you should take a listen!

Talks

SocRSE member James Hetherington highlighted the importance of Research Software Engineers in professionalising software addressing the pandemic. He spoke in this Research Data Alliance plenary session.

Papers

Special issue on software citation, indexing and discoverability – Daniel S. Katz and Neil Chue Hong are editing a special issue of PeerJ CS on software citation, indexing and discoverability, so if you are doing any work in this area, please consider submitting it to this special issue.

Blog Posts

  • The Sheffield RSE group report on what the “Hidden REF” is all about
  • Relatedly, Mike Croucher – a SocRSE member from MathWorks – writes on the Importance of Software to Research
  • From The University of Manchester (SocRSE member Peter Crowther) on: how to harvest Twitter data using Python (includes a video link to a talk on this subject by Manchester academic Joseph Allen)
  • What are your 10 top pieces of software over your working life? Do you have any in common with Oxford’s David De Roure in this excellent SSI blog piece

Community info

Reminding you about..

RSEs in the UK now have the opportunity to apply for the new Open Plus Fellowships that are funded by EPSRC. The Open refers to the fellowship being open to all who work in academia e.g. RSE and technicians while the Plus refers to being able to use some of your time for community activities. The RSE Fellowships will still continue but in time will migrate to these.

UKRI are building a new funding service that will eventually replace the existing Je-S system. If you have any experience of applying for funding, or are likely to apply for or assess funding in the future you can join the effort to help design the service in a way that will meet your needs. If you would like to input into the design of the new service please provide your details here

The DiversIT Charter is CEPIS’ flagship initiative aimed at reducing gender disparity in IT roles. It is a roadmap which moves through three levels of attainment: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each level has a focus on attraction and retention, asking applicants to showcase their initiatives and policies for increasing gender diversity in ICT professions.

A new ‘Resources‘ database has been set up on the Society website which will hold the links to all the static useful items that have featured here under Community info. Help us to fill the resources database by
submitting an item to the database.

Imperial College Newsletter…The Imperial College RSE Team have been producing a newsletter for a while now for their institute community. They include a ‘Research Software of the month’, links to blog posts and dates for your diary.

Better Scientific Software – a blog with relevant articles.

RSE Worldwide

Awareness of the RSE role and the RSE community is growing around the world with new national groups being created all the time. In this section, we introduce these groups and raise awareness of their success. The Society supports new groups and collaborates with representatives from them on various initiatives (papers, international workshops).

In January 2021, the International Council of RSE Associations was founded as a forum to communicate and formally meet to ensure cohesion between associations and to provide a platform for open discussion around international issues and affairs.

(In alphabetical order)

AU/NZ RSE Group

Belgium Research Software Engineers Community

Join the (informal) chats of the Belgium Research Software Engineers community on https://gitter.im/be-rse/

CANARIE

de-RSE

Dates for the joined monthly calls of the Open Science und Research Software Engineering communities can be found here.

NL RSE

New meet-ups are scheduled for NL RSE. Interested in proposing a workshop, talk, or some other contribution? Get in touch!

Nordic RSE

Research Software Hour…Hosted by members of the Nordic-RSE community, this continues weekly on Twitch. Research Software Hour is an online stream/show about scientific computing and research software. It is designed to provide the skills typically picked up via informal networks; each week, they do some combination of exploring new tools, analyzing and improving someone’s research code, and discussion. Watchers can take part and contribute code to us which they analyze and discuss on stream. They broadcast on Twitch Thursdays at 20:30 Oslo time / 21:30 Helsinki time.

The Nordic-RSE conference will (hopefully) be held 27-28 May 2021 in Stockholm. Of course, this is subject to the global situation at that time. The conference will be modelled on other global RSE conferences (for example, see the schedule of RSEConUK 2019).

US RSE

New US RSE events and training are scheduled.

Collect your gold star here if you’ve read all the way to the end!

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