Newsletter – June 2020
Welcome to the June 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.
The trustees meet monthly as we would usually but all meetings are online rather than one every quarter being in person. Currently we are focusing on three main areas which all help cement the infrastructure of the charity in place. We are completing various financial tasks including policies on expenditure, membership and our year end accounts. We are discussing and organising the trustee elections for autumn this year, and finalising our IT system for collaborative working and setting up society email addresses. Over the coming months, we are looking to build and enhance our relationships with other professional societies to raise awareness of RSEs so please let us know which societies should be approached in the form below ‘RSE Membership links’.
- RSE Membership Links – 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.
- 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.
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. The presentations were recorded and will be made available soon. 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 have a mailing list but this is mostly used to fix the meetings. Discussions are held on slack so as not to clutter inboxes.
Membership to the Society
We currently have 280 members with several thousand people forming the online community on the RSE Slack space. Sign up for membership! with direct debit being the current payment method. We are working with our membership platform providers to find a solution for other payment methods and we hope to have more information on that soon.
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.
Soon, we will be tidying up channels that don’t seem to be active anymore. 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. From today, we will also automatically add new joiners to 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/
‘In the spotlight…’
In this section, we put the spotlight on an RSE or RSE Group so that you can get to know your colleagues before meeting in-person. This month, we’re introducing The Imperial College RSE team. The central RSE team at Imperial is part of the Research Computing Service in the College’s ICT department. It was established almost 3 years ago and currently has 5 members dedicated to improving the quality and sustainability of software developed at Imperial. The team is working with researchers from all of the College’s Faculties and external partners including Microsoft, NumFOCUS and the Met Office. In addition to contributing to software development projects for research and commercialisation the team prides itself on its broader knowledge transfer activities. These have included training and community engagement inside and outside Imperial: presenting locally and at national workshops and conferences, reviewing papers on research software, and contributing to numerous open source projects. In the absence of in-person RSE conferences the team is currently looking forward to playing an active part in SORSE.
EPSRC RSE Fellowships 2020 & Webinar
The EPSRC has announced a new call for the third cohort of RSE Fellows with a closing date for outlines on the 18th August. Given the very strong interest in previous calls, the community will be running a webinar to answer any questions you may have on applying for an RSE Fellowship. The webinar will include representatives from EPSRC, the Society of Research Software Engineering as well as current RSE Fellows. The webinar will take place on 7th July 2020, 10am-midday via Zoom. Sign up via this form in order to receive the zoom details early on the 7th July.
SORSE (pronounced ‘source’)
Missing those RSE Conferences this year We’ve launched SORSE (a Series of Online Research Software Events) today. Our international answer to the COVID-19-induced cancellation of many national RSE conferences. Get involved in this new initiative created by a truly international committee!
To keep us all connected, collaborating and learning until the 2021 RSE Conferences, a wonderful group of volunteers has created this new series that aims to deliver a weekly event — a talk, workshop, panel, poster session, software demo, etc — from the community. This is an open call to all RSEs and anyone involved with research software, worldwide, to submit an abstract. The call will be open continuously for six months with rolling deadlines. The first deadline is soon (12th July) and then again on the 31st July, followed by the end of each month after that. Apply at any time and you’ll be included in the next review.
- Have an idea and want to collaborate on it? – Go to the Topic Bazaar – The topic bazaar is a place to encourage and create collaborations that can then be presented in a variety of formats within the series.
- Want to have a say on the conference content? Go to the Wishlist and tell us what events and guest speakers you’d like to see.
- ‘Ask us Anything’ sessions available each Wednesday in July at 9am UTC on zoom – sign up here OR find us anytime on the ‘sorse_ask_us_anything’ slack channel.
2nd International Leaders meeting
Inviting people with a vision to start, establish, consolidate, or advance a Research Software Engineering community in their own national, regional or domain-specific ecosystem to apply for participation!
- Who: ~40 RSE established / aspiring activists and influencers from the international Research Software Engineering community
- What: 3 half days of networking, knowledge exchange & hands-on collaboration towards (1) establishing research software as a first-class-citizen in research, (2) the creation of academic careers for Research Software Engineers on an international level
- When: 15-16 + 30 September 2020
- Where: Online
- Details: https://researchsoftware.org/2020-workshop.html
- Deadline for applications: 31 July 2020
The Research Software Encyclopedia
A community driven, open source strategy to derive context-specific definitions of research software. Read the Introduction to the Encyclopedia and read this small tutorial on how you can use the encyclopedia for your research software and get involved. This is a project in progress, you are welcome to contribute on any front, and there will be more to come in the future!
A new RSE Chapter – Belgium RSE!
The aim of the Belgium Research Software Engineers community is to foster a community of research software developers and to collectively improve the standard of software used for scientific research. They are hosting their first national RSE Conference in December 2020.
New Zealand Research Software Engineering Conference 2020
This year, from 9-11 September, we invite you to join us 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.
RDA Recommendations and Guidelines on Data Sharing for COVID-19
(this includes recommendations on research software)
In late March, RDA received a direct request from one of its funders, the European Commission, to create global guidelines and recommendations for data sharing under COVID-19 circumstances. Over 600 data professionals and domain experts signed up and began work in early April 2020.
They have produced a rich set of detailed guidelines to help researchers and data stewards follow best practices to maximise the efficiency of their work, and to act as a blueprint for future emergencies; coupled with recommendations to help policymakers and funders to maximise timely, quality data sharing and appropriate responses in such health emergencies.
On 30 June 2020, RDA published the final version of the RDA COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines on data sharing covering four research areas — clinical data, omics practices, epidemiology and social sciences — complimented by overarching areas focusing on legal and ethical considerations, research software, community participation and indigenous data. More information and the final report.
EPCC’s 5-week online Supercomputing MOOC, developed as part of the PRACE project, is running from 15th June 2020. All material can be accessed for free, although there are paid options if you would like a completion certificate.
CZI EOSS Call 3 is open for applications
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative invites applications in support of open source software projects that are essential to biomedical research. The goal of the program is to support software maintenance, growth, development, and community engagement for these critical tools.
Survey of academic researchers who use or wish to use technical support from staff data scientists
If you collaborate or consult with data scientists (or wish you could) then please take this short survey from the Academic Data Science Alliance. Responses are welcome from any geographic region. The results may help push for better policies ad more university funding for data science.
In the news…
The Society of RSE has written about the relevance of the RSE movement in improving research software in general, and COVID-19 software in particular – ‘Covid-19 software and the RSE Role‘.
The Times Higher Education (THE) wrote an article about Research Software Engineers in June.
A Nature article that comments on some of open science’s values and how Neil Ferguson’s epidemiology model has had its results confirmed by other models and confirmed as reproducible in an analysis by CODECHECK.
CarpentryCon @ Home
Consider submitting a Session Proposal for CarpentryCon @ Home! The Carpentries is hosting the “CarpentryCon @ Home” online event series in July and August 2020, and invite you to present talks, lead breakout discussion sessions, share skills through short workshops or host social events in your time zone. Find more details in this blog post.
The International Fortran Conference 2020 takes place from 2nd-4th July 2020 and will be held completely virtually.
Inclusive Leadership and Inspiring Action and Innovation – Wednesday, 8th July, 2-2.40p.m. BST – Dr Toni Collis – REGISTER HERE (free)
Is 2020 your year for improving equity, diversity and inclusion? Or the year that you hope your research team makes their big breakthrough? Are you hoping to get more out of your peers, colleagues and team? Diversity is now a buzzword that gets attention wherever you go, but actually embarking on a programme to hire and retain diverse talent is not as easy as it first seems!
In this talk I will discuss why equity, diversity and inclusion, and achieving success for your team, innovation and research are not mutually exclusive. I will share my experiences of setting up an internationally recognised movement addressing inclusion – Women in High Performance Computing (WHPC), including what I wish I had done differently. I will finish with a session on inclusive leadership, and how being an exceptional, inclusive, leader can inspire research, innovation and the careers of those around you.
Dr Toni Collis is the CEO of Collis-Holmes Innovations and Chair of Women in HPC. Toni is a Strategic Leader, Trainer, Consultant and Leadership Coach. With a background in Physics, Toni’s professional career has focused on facilitating the use of parallel computing and supercomputers for the advancement of research and innovation in both academia and industry. Early on in her career, Toni realised that knowledge was not the only barrier to the uptake of parallel computing in research, but that culture limited the participation of women and minorities. As Chair and Co-Founder of WHPC, Toni developed and led innovations aiming to diversify the HPC workforce, providing HPC tutorials for women academics and students around the world, training for inclusive workforces and research into how to improve the representation of women. In early 2019, Toni focused on her passion for broadening diversity & inclusion in the technology industry and now offers Strategy, Coaching, Training and Consultancy for Women Leaders and their allies, with a personal goal of assisting 2000 women into leadership in tech in the next five years.
Online Workshop on “Software Engineering for Exascale“ 14-15 July 13:00-17:00 BST (08:00-12:00 EDT). As part of the UK Research and Innovation funded Excalibur Programme, we are holding a short two-day online workshop on “Software Engineering for Exascale”, hosted on Zoom. This workshop will explore the challenges facing the scientific computing community, and cover exascale readiness techniques such as performance portability, algorithmic fault tolerance, asynchronous programming, and improving scalability. The workshop will include contributions from experts from international exascale initiatives, and leading vendors including NVIDIA, Intel and Codeplay.
Europython2020 will be online on the 23rd-26th July. Ticket sales are open.
JuliaCon 2020, is free and online on Wednesday 29th to Friday 31st July 2020.
2020 GPU Hackathon
Following the success of our 2019 event, the University of Sheffield and NVIDIA are pleased to announce that we will be hosting a 2020 GPU Hackathon as part of the NVIDIA international GPU Hackathon Series. This event will take place July 27th – 31st, 2020 most likely as an online event unless government restrictions around COVID-19 are significantly altered. Prior GPU experience is not required, as those selected will be paired with experienced mentors who will teach them how to leverage accelerated computing in their own applications or further optimize their codes.
General-purpose Graphics Processing Units (GPGPUs) potentially offer exceptionally high memory bandwidth and performance for a wide range of applications. A challenge in utilizing such accelerators has been learning how to program them. The hackathon is intended to help overcome this challenge for new GPU programmers and also to help existing GPU programmers to further optimize their applications – a great opportunity for graduate students and postdocs. Any and all GPU programming paradigms are welcome.
There will be intensive mentoring during this 5-day hands-on workshop, with the goal that the teams leave with applications running on GPUs, or at least with a clear roadmap of how to get there. Each team will be assigned mentors from universities, national laboratories, supercomputing centers, industry partners, and NVIDIA who have extensive experience in programming GPUs.
The call for hacking projects is now closed. Details on the event are on the official website.
Research Software Engineers Community Workshop @ PEARC20
The Research Software Engineers Community Workshop will be July 31st, starting at 8 am PDT (Portland, OR time). It is open to all PEARC20 registrants. The full PEARC20 conference runs July 26-31 and is virtual this year. Information about the conference is available on the PEARC20 conference website. PEARC20 Registration will be required for all workshop participants.
The workshop will provide an opportunity for research software engineers to connect and share their work. There will be presentations from RSEs about their software, research, projects, and groups, and about the development of the RSE community. There will also be discussion of challenges facing RSEs and what the community can do to help meet those challenges. You can participate in the workshop by giving a short talk or joining as a general participant. To give a talk, please see the guidelines below. To join as a participant, register for PEARC20 and then join our workshop session on Friday, July 31st. Propose a talk.
The annual HPC Autumn Academy
The 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. Full details here.
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.
We are excited to announce the Research Software Engineers in HPC Workshop (RSE-HPC-2020) to be held at SC20 this fall in Atlanta, GA, USA! 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. The deadline for submissions is Friday, August 14, 2020. Some submitters will be invited to present their papers at the workshop as lightning talks or to participate as panelists where appropriate.For more details see the workshop website.
RSE Stories for June
.. are brought to us from the wonderful Vanessa Sochat in the US and Peter Schmidt in the UK. This month they feature:
- Julian Pistorius an organic software farmer ‘Software as a Garden’
- Richard Fitzjohn, from Imperial College London ‘Get the bugs!’
- Stuart Bowman, a simulations engineer at MITRE, ‘Awesome Airplanes’
- Neil Chue Hong and Simon Hettrick from the SSI ‘Software is the backbone’
In the absence of a ‘Resources’ page on the society website (we’re developing one!), here is a collection of new and already mentioned useful things.
UK Exascale ExCALIBUR project
This month we heard from Richard Gunn (EPSRC/UKRI) and Jeremy Yates (UCL) introducing the UK Exascale ExCALIBUR project. It’s in the early stages but RSEs are a core part of the programme. Watch the recorded webinar.
The Turing Way
A new format of their book ‘The Turing Way‘ has been released.
Collaborations Workshop 2020 resources now available
Collaborations Workshop 2020 (CW20) took place online from 31 March – 2 April 2020 and the documentation created to facilitate the virtual unconference is now available for reuse.
Originally scheduled to take place at Queen’s University Belfast, CW20 was reorganised within three weeks to take place online due to the situation surrounding COVID-19, and was supported by Microsoft, F1000 Research, Figshare, eLife and Overleaf.
The 1st ARCHER2 eCSE call
The 1st ARCHER2 eCSE call (ARCHER2 eCSE01) opened on the 19 May 2020. The deadline for submitting documents for technical evaluations is 16:00 on 16 June 2020, with the final deadline for proposal submission being 16:00 on 7 July 2020.
Through a series of regular calls, Embedded CSE (eCSE) support provides funding to the ARCHER2 user community to develop software in a sustainable manner, to run on the ARCHER2 system. Funding will enable the employment of a Research Software Engineer (RSE) to work specifically on the relevant software to enable new features or improve the performance of the code. More information here.
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, we 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 we analyze and discuss on stream. We broadcast on Twitch Tuesdays at 20:30 Oslo time / 21:30 Helsinki time. More info here.
Investigating & Archiving the Scholarly Git Experience
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!
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 and get involved via their website.
Interested in Becoming a Mentor? Mentors needed for the GPU Hackathon!
Mentors are the lifeblood of the GPU Hackathon program. During each hackathon, participating teams are paired with mentors who have GPU programming expertise and work alongside the mentors to achieve their goals. Our mentors come from universities, national laboratories, supercomputing centers, and industry partners. The success of these events relies on the expertise of our mentors and their willingness to share this knowledge with the participants.
As a mentor, you work with a team that intends to use a programming model—OpenACC, CUDA, OpenMP, Kokkos, or another—that you are familiar with. We typically pair two mentors per team so that skill sets and learning styles are balanced. Regardless of your level of expertise, these events are great opportunities to sharpen your skills, learn about the latest technologies, and collaborate with others in your community. Use the application form to get involved.
Lesson on Security and Safe Use of SSH Keys – James Grant (Bath) has been developing a security lesson that can be accessed at the link above. Thanks to Will Furnass, Jack Betteridge, Will Saunders and James Davenport in particular.
Snakemake supports Google Life Sciences API – The Python workflow manager Snakemake 5.18 is released and now supports the Google Life Sciences API, meaning you can submit your workflows to use Google Cloud resources. This work was funded and supported by Google and conducted by the awesome Vanessa Sochat (@vsoch) from StanfordCompute.
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.
Open Access to ACM Digital Library During Coronavirus Pandemic – For the next three months, there will be no fees assessed for accessing or downloading work published by ACM.
Free Springer books – the book publisher has just released over 400 book titles that can be downloaded for free. There are many titles on programming, computer science for example ‘Advanced Guide to Python 3 Programming’, ‘Probability and Statistics for Computer Science’, ‘Java in two semesters’.
MaDiH: Research Software Engineering Training’– this was a training course on Research Software Engineering in Digital Humanities modelled on King’s Digital Lab approach.
Efficient R Programming: A book Exciting news for anyone looking to speed up their data analysis code.
An ultimate list of useful git commands.
Papers – Quick links
CW20 speed blog: How do we persuade funders to support software maintenance? By Emmy Tsang, Tania Allard, Becca Wilson, Neil Chue Hong, David De Roure and Jez Cope (Editor).
ReSA blog: ‘Evidence for the importance of research software’ – The ReSA Taskforce on evidence for the importance of research software presented its outcomes in a blog posted by URSSI, SSI and Netherlands eScience Centre in early June. This work identified and analysed resources that demonstrate the importance of research software to research outcomes, to provide information for sharing with key influencers. This analysis considers papers relating to meta-research, policy, community, education and training, research breakthroughs and specific software.
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).
Back in October 2019, the AU/NZ RSE Group held their first mini-conference for Australasia in Brisbane. Read about that here.
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.
Github repo of the month!
Nominate significant code for this feature – either yours or somebody else’s you read and found useful or cool. Send it to Claire Wyatt, RSE Community Manager.