Newsletter – August 2020
Welcome to the August 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.
Annual General Meeting and Trustee Elections
All are welcome to attend the Society Annual General Meeting on Monday 7th September at 2pm BST. The purpose of the AGM is for the trustees to update the Society’s members (non members welcome too) on the work we’ve achieved this year to develop the Society and further our shared aims, and for members to have the opportunity to ask questions and raise topics for future consideration. The updates from our trustees will be recorded but not necessarily all of the meeting will be recorded. At that link above, you can also find our annual trustee report and statement of accounts.
The meeting will also include the launch of the trustee elections with nominees having the opportunity to present their pitch to the community. All the election pitches (in text format) will be on the Society website so if you can’t make the AGM you can still read up on the nominees and vote during September.
Each year, several trustees step down after two years of service and new trustees are appointed to the charity board. Nominations are open until midnight at the end of Monday 31st August, with members voting in September over a period of three weeks. Results will be announced in early October as the new trustees take up their positions.
Any eligible member can nominate themselves to stand for election as a trustee (including any of the existing trustees reaching the end of their term). We strongly encourage you to consider standing if you would like to help shape the future of Research Software Engineering and your professional Society. You can find out what is involved and how to nominate yourself and existing trustees are very happy to discuss informally on Slack.
Become a Member of the Society! then you can stand as a trustee and vote in the upcoming trustee elections. Our membership platform now accepts credit and debit card offering two alternatives to direct debit which is also still available. By introducing the possibility of card payments means that a UK bank account is no longer needed to join. The annual membership fee is £20.
Trustee Meeting Update
The trustees met online for our monthly meeting on the 27th August. We discussed the organisation of the upcoming Annual General Meeting in September and the trustee elections launch. We’re really pleased that the facility to pay for membership by credit and debit card is now available on our membership platform. We have been waiting a while for that from our provider and hope that this now encourages those who prefer not to use direct debit to sign up! We continue to focus on cementing the infrastructure of the charity in place and are now implementing a handover structure from the trustees stepping down to the new incoming trustees for September and the beginning of October. We’re relieved and proud to have written and published our first annual report for the Charity Commission and our statement of accounts.
New Initiative – Society Resource Pages
These pages contain a growing collection of useful resources for RSEs — links to talks, white papers, code repositories, blog posts and more! This is a work in progress by Ania Brown and Claire Wyatt (trustees). If you know of any resources that you think will be useful to the RSE community, please help us out by submitting an item to the database! This database also serves as a record of useful items submitted to this newsletter.
- Keep up to date – You can keep up to date with trustee meetings as we have shared a summary of Society monthly trustee meetings including the decision log.
- RSE Vacancies – You can post an RSE role or a role supporting RSEs to the vacancy page on the Society website via a form.
Membership to the Society
We currently have 325 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 volunteer or be nominated for working groups or committees that the trustees may establish
More Slack channels – There are lots of 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’. The most recently created channels are #covid, #rse_fellowships_2020, #sorse_ask_us_anything, #gaming, #healthcare, #remote-working.
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 hearing 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/
Survey of RSE response to COVID-19
UKRI and the Society are trying to document the work currently underway by RSEs in response to COVID-19. The collated data will be displayed on a UKRI hosted website and on the Society website, and will help to coordinate the response and increase collaboration. This short form will help us get a picture of the work currently underway. It should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Where possible, we ask for this form to be filled out once per RSE group to give an overview of the group’s activities on this topic and if you are an RSE located outside of a group please do complete the form listing each COVID-19 related project you’re involved in.
RSE Group Leaders Meetings – going online
A successful group leaders meeting took place on the 19th June online. If you’d like to host/chair the next meeting, possibly in September, get in touch with Claire.
The Society supports meetings for RSE Leaders, which were originally in person twice a year. Now that we are all online, we are trialling a move to every three months. Both the private slack channel and the meetings are for leaders to share and discuss best practice confidentially. No matter how small or large the group, the challenges are usually quite similar so this leaders network discusses on slack and meets in person (now online) the solutions that work, present interesting projects, share best practice etc. The meetings are informal with no note taking and all conversations are strictly confidential. If you’d like to join the leaders slack channel and/or attend the next meeting, please get in touch with Claire Wyatt. There is also a mailing list but this is mostly used to fix the meetings. Discussions are held on slack so as not to clutter inboxes.
Mike Spencer helped us to kick off this new initiative. We’re looking for organisations to approach to raise awareness of RSEs. Please complete this survey to help us target effort. This survey is being run by the Society of RSE trustees and was developed by Mike Spencer.
A Series of Online Research Software Events – pronounced ‘source’ is an international answer to the COVID-19-induced cancellation of many national RSE conferences. An international committee has provided an opportunity for RSEs to develop and grow their skills, build new collaborations and engage with RSEs worldwide.
This is an open call to all RSEs and anyone involved with research software worldwide, to propose a talk, a workshop, a software demo, a panel or discussion, blog post or poster. After each event, SORSE will provide an opportunity for networking and informal discussion with other participants in small groups.
The Call for Contributions form will remain open continuously and there will be a rolling deadline at the end of the last day (UTC) of each month following which all contributions received over the previous month will be sent for review by the Programme Committee.
Our programme is looking great with all sorts of events filling the weeks of September, October and into November. We’re hoping to continue this into 2021 so there’s still plenty of time to submit your contribution.
SORSE Launch! To kick our series off, we’re delighted to announce that the SORSE Launch Event will take place 13:00-15:00 UTC on Wednesday 2nd September. We’re pleased to be welcoming two keynote speakers at this event:
-Dr Mariann Hardey, Associate Professor, Durham University: Switching off the label “women in tech”
-Dr Kari Jordan, Executive Director, ‘I wanna dance with somebody‘
More information and register soon!
HPC Champions: Registration and call for submissions of talks, discussion sessions and working groups.
The next HPC Champions workshop will be held virtually over two afternoons on the 17th and 18th September in partnership with SORSE, and will involve talks, discussion sessions and working group sessions. Topics covered will include updates from the national and regional supercomputing sites, training, and plans for knowledge and skills repositories. Please register here to attend the workshop, and we encourage you to also submit a lightning talk, discussion session or working group suggestion.
HPC Champions is a network of individuals with the goal of supporting HPC users in the UK to learn about HPC, find the most appropriate system for their purposes and to get the most out of that system. It includes a wide number of HPC communities including RSEs and system administrators from the local, regional and national supercomputing centres, as well representatives of HPC consortia. We encourage anyone with an interest in supporting researchers and RSEs to make the best possible use of the HPC resources to attend.
Next Turing Lecture: Tuesday 22 September at 3pm (BST) – Marc Raibert: Building Dynamic Robots
Marc Raibert is the founder, former CEO, and now Chairman of Boston Dynamics, the robotics company known for creating BigDog, Atlas, Spot, and Handle. Before starting Boston Dynamics, Raibert was professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and an associated professor of Computer Science and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. Marc is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Delivered in collaboration with Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, Marc will give a status report on the robots being developed at Boston Dynamics, including those focused on commercial application today and tomorrow and R&D robots that can lead to the robots of our dreams. Boston Dynamics makes some of the world’s most advanced robots, including Spot, BigDog, Atlas, and Handle. Robots that move dynamically travel where other robots can’t go, handle larger payloads with smaller footprints and smaller robot mass, and move faster to get work done more quickly. Register here.
ReSA becomes a fiscally sponsored project of Code for Science and Society
The Research Software Alliance, ReSA is now a fiscally sponsored project of Code for Science and Society (CS&S). CS&S are a US-based 501(c)(3) non-profit supporting open collaboration in public interest technology through fiscal sponsorships and community centered programs supporting sustainable open source. ReSA and CS&S share an alignment of missions, with both aiming to empower communities to work together in the software space. ReSA looks forward to engaging with CS&S on financial, administrative and strategic issues.
SORSE Launch takes places on the 2nd September at 2pm BST.
Society AGM and Trustee Elections takes place on the 7th September at 2pm BST.
The annual HPC Autumn Academy, hosted by the Centre for Scientific Computing at the University of Cambridge, will be online this year, from 7th-18th September 2020. Lectures will 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.
This year, from 9-11 September, New Zealand Research Software Engineering Conference 2020 invites you to join them for an interactive and impactful virtual programme that shares the tools, approaches, challenges, and opportunities related to writing code and developing applications that enable research. NeSI’s NZ RSE conference is one of the few events where scientific programmers, software engineers, developers, IT managers, coding enthusiasts, and big data analysts from Crown Research Institutes, universities, and other public sector organisations can discuss how they’re supporting research ecosystems. By moving online, we’re hoping to welcome even more perspectives and contributions from Australasia’s science and research communities.
Registration is now open for the next Excalibur-SLE workshop, this one on “Data Assimilation and Uncertainty Quantification”, taking place on Zoom, 24-25 September 2020.
9th Workshop on Python for High-Performance and Scientific Computing – PyHPC 2020: Call for Submissions! PyHPC 2020 is looking for Paper and Lightning Talk submissions. More information is available at the Call for Submissions link.
The workshop will be held in conjunction with SC20: The International
Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and
Analysis. November 15th 2020 in Atlanta, GA. More info here.
RSE-HPC-2020 – We are excited to announce the Research Software Engineers in HPC Workshop (RSE-HPC-2020) to be held at SC20 this fall, now occurring as a fully online event! This will be a half-day workshop on Monday, November 16 (possibly virtual). The workshop will bring together RSEs and allies involved in HPC, from all over the world, to grow the RSE community by establishing and strengthening professional networks of current RSEs and RSE leaders. We’ll discuss the current activities and plans of national RSE organizations, discuss the needs of RSEs and RSE groups, and write a report on ways RSE organizations can help address these. We’ve issued a call for position papers and discussion topic proposals on issues of interest to RSEs.
Nordic RSE Conference
..is now open for proposals and will close on the September 15th. Currently, the conference is scheduled for the 1st and 2nd of December in Stockholm but they are monitoring the situation carefully and will make a decision nearer the time. Registration is due to open in September.
- ‘Opening Eyes and Turning Lights On‘ from Radovan Bast in Tromso in Northern Norway, who is building exciting software and teaching students how to be good engineers. He is also busy building and growing the Nordic RSE Community with colleagues from Sweden, Finland and other countries.
- ‘Science Gateways‘ from Sandra Gesing. Successful and reproducible science is not just about writing software, but creating interfaces and interactions that are comfortable for researchers to use. In this episode, Sandra Gesing tells us about the importance of science gateways.
- ‘How to make beer better‘ from James Collier and Alexander Botzki. Have you ever wondered how AI can improve the taste of beer? Look no further than the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), where James Collier and Alexander Botzki are working hard to help beer lovers enjoy their drinks even more.
- ‘The Code Curious Biologist‘ from Blake Joyce. Success for a research team happens at the intersection between system admins, research software engineers, and researchers. No one knows this better than Blake Joyce.
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.
Introduction to reproducible analyses in R available online – Recordings of workshop which introduces researchers to R are available online.
Reminding you about..
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 Tuesdays at 20:30 Oslo time / 21:30 Helsinki time.
Imperial College Newsletter…The Imperial College RSE Team have been producing a newsletter for a while now to their institute community. They include a ‘Research Software of the month’, links to blog posts and dates for your diary.
Hidden REF…Hidden REF is a year-long competition to highlight the research staff that publications overlook. The way in which the (usual) REF exercise is conducted overlooks many of the people who are vital to the success of research. The Hidden REF will celebrate all research outputs and recognise everyone who contributes to their creation. Anyone who works in a UK research institution can submit to the hidden REF. Read more detail here in this Research Professional news article.
Investigating & Archiving the Scholarly Git Experience Survey… An Alfred P. Sloan Foundation funded project that seeks to investigate the scholarly git experience, and inform the way code and annotations on Git hosting platforms can be made stable, permanently citable, and under active preservation following an established and accepted workflow. Participate in the survey to give them good information about and from the RSE Community!
- In this work we (Matan Rusanovsky, Re’em Harel, Lee-or Alon, Idan Mosseri, Harel Levin, Gal Oren) present ‘BACKUS: Comprehensive High-Performance Research Software Engineering Approach for Simulations in Supercomputing Systems‘, which we found to fit best for long-lived parallel scientific codes.
- James Meakin, Lead RSE at Radboud University, writes ..’During the pandemic, our Research Software Engineering team at Radboudumc in the Netherlands collaborated with Amazon Web Services to accelerate the development of CO-RADS for standardised CT assessment of patients suspected of having COVID-19, and to make AI tools for automated CO-RADS reporting available to clinical researchers worldwide. You can read about our experiences in this technical blog post published today ‘How to build a global, scalable, low-latency, and secure machine learning medical imaging analysis platform on AWS’.
- ‘Celebrating datasets and other research outputs – introducing the HiddenREF‘ from Patricia Herterich on the Software Sustainability Institute blog.
- ‘CW20 speed blog: What we wish we knew when we started as RSEs‘ by Esther Asef, Andrea Mannocci, Richard Darst, Tuomas Koskela, Chris Fullerton and Emily Lewis (Editor) on the Software Sustainability Institute blog.
The RSE campaign is growing around the worldwide and new groups are 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 these groups on various initiatives (papers, international workshops). (In alphabetial order).
AU/NZ RSE Group
Back in October 2019, the AU/NZ RSE Group held their first mini-conference for Australasia in Brisbane. Read about that here. This year, from 9-11 September, New Zealand Research Software Engineering Conference 2020 invites you to join them for an interactive and impactful virtual programme that shares the tools, approaches, challenges, and opportunities related to writing code and developing applications that enable research. NeSI’s NZ RSE conference is one of the few events where scientific programmers, software engineers, developers, IT managers, coding enthusiasts, and big data analysts from Crown Research Institutes, universities, and other public sector organisations can discuss how they’re supporting research ecosystems. By moving online, we’re hoping to welcome even more perspectives and contributions from Australasia’s science and research communities.
Belgium Research Software Engineers Community
It’s great news to see that another RSE chapter has formed! Check out their new website (link above) and they are planning their first conference in December 2020.
CANARIE have launched a call to fund software development teams at Canadian Higher-education Institutions to directly support researchers. Following the success of a pilot and similar efforts deployed in European countries, CANARIE’s Local Research Software Support call will fund teams of three dedicated, full-time research software developers at a target of six participating institutions. Further info here.
As mentioned above, due to the current SARS-CoV-2 virus/COVID-19 pandemic, the deRSE20 organisers have decided to cancel deRSE20 – 2nd International Conference for Research Software Engineers in Germany, planned to take place from 25-27 August in Jena, Germany. “We have made this decision with a heavy heart, but – given the current situation – did not see any other way to eliminate any risks for attendees and organizers.” See the full announcement here.
The Netherlands RSE Group (NL RSE) had their first conference in November 2019. From that conference, here is the presentation ‘Five Recommendations for Fair Software‘ and a recap on the ‘Fair Software‘ Session.
The NL-RSE meets on regular basis, every two months on average. Netherlands eScience Center, DTL and SURF frequently organise NL-RSE meetups to encourage collaboration and communication between Research Software Engineers in the Netherlands.
The Nordic RSE Group plans to hold their first Nordic-RSE conference in the week December 1-2, 2020.
The group recently released their governance document. Also, don’t miss this – the US RSE group have released a summary ‘A year of Progress for US-RSE‘ and it’s a great read! Read about the US RSE group in their newsletter here.