Newsletter – March 2021
Please pass this newsletter on to any of your colleagues who might be interested
Welcome to the March 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.
Peer Review College blog post – call for participation
Our RSE Society President Paul Richmond has written a blog post about why RSEs should join a peer review college: “Software is part of research and research software engineers should be part of how it is assessed“.
The trustees had our usual monthly meeting on the 4th March 2021 and continue to work hard on various initiatives. As before, we provide updates from the trustees below to give you more detail on the types of things we are working on.
Paul Richmond, President: This month I attended a UKRI workshop on doctoral training. As part of this I highlighted some of the challenges within our community around support for RSEs to provide necessary training. It was great to hear that a very broad range of representatives at the meeting were in agreement that training around software engineering best practice and reproducibility is essential and is currently vastly under provisioned.
It has been a busy month in terms of advocacy and outreach. Along with Ian, I met with Dr Bill Mitchell of the British Computer Society (Director of Policy). The BCS have a remit to help other relevant societies especially around professionalism of careers within computing. This means that there are direct areas where we can collaborate with the BCS to raise awareness of the RSE role and we intend to do so. Along with Marion, I met Robert Deller (portfolio manager in the ICT theme at EPSRC), Sarah King and, Michael James (portfolio managers in e-infrastructure at EPSRC) and Nik Ogryzko (Talent Program Manager at UKRI). We discussed areas which are challenges to the RSE community in which UKRI may be able to support us. E.g. Provision for training, better support for junior RSEs, increased software funding and better grant review guidance around research software. We (the Society) attend semi-regular meetings with UKRI and will be working with them towards items on our recently published strategy. Some of the community will have read about UKRIs initiative on 101 different jobs in research and innovation. I have again been engaging with UKRI in ensuring that we get a fair and diverse representation which reflects our community as part of this. I would encourage the community to reach out to UKRI ([email protected]) to share their experience of contributing to research.
Some of you will no doubt see the SoRSE talk on the International Council of RSE associations. This is something which along with others I proposed and helped to share as part of the international RSE leaders workshop. I encourage you to watch the SoRSE talk on demand to find out more; the summary of this is that it will enable the Society to collaborate more easily with other associations and help to plan an “international” branded RSE conference. On the topic of conferences, I along with Matt have been busy working with members of the community to develop ideas for this year’s conference. A proposal will be put to the board of trustees for vote at our next meeting so expect an announcement soon!
Last but certainly not least is the topic of mental health. Myself and Marion met with Dave Horsfall and Mark Turner (RSE Newcastle) to discuss Dave’s excellent blog post and work around mental health for software developers. The Society have extended our support to Dave and will work with him to help raise awareness around mental health for RSEs.
Teri Forey, Secretary: As well as the usual monthly tasks of organizing the trustee meetings I’ve been working with the RSE Role Diversity WG on how we can better understand the breadth of RSE job roles. I’ve also been working on the CW21 mini-workshop we’re running at the end of March.
Ian Cottam, Membership Team: SocRSE President Paul Richmond and I met with Dr Bill Mitchell of the British Computer Society. Bill is their Director of Policy. BCS have a remit to help other relevant societies, such as ours. Amongst other things, we discussed mentoring, and Bill provided some good advice, including what BCS did wrong at first.
We continue to talk with various organisations that could offer benefits to members. Sponsorship of the conference is popular but we need to agree to the form of this year’s conference before finalising such support.
See the interesting blog post below – sent in (but not written) by Dr Mario Wolczko of Oracle Labs – on what Oracle Research can do for university based researchers.
Marion Weinzierl, Communications Team, RSE Role Diversity working group: I’ve been working with my fellow trustees on the RSE Role Diversity topic and the upcoming minisymposium at CW21. I also joined Paul in meeting representatives from EPSRC ICT/Research Infrastructure for an informal chat about how the needs and requirements for RSE, and the grants and fellowships offered by EPSRC, as well as a meeting with Dave Horsfall and Mark Turner about how the Society can support Dave in his engagement for better mental health for RSEs.
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.
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 currently have exactly 408 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
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.
A Series of Online Research Software Events is coming to an end! After more than half a year, SORSE will end with a big final event on March 24th, 4pm UTC.
Collaborations Workshop 2021 (CW21) will take place online from Tuesday, 30 March to Thursday, 1 April 2021 and registration is still open! The Software Sustainability Institute’s Collaborations Workshop series brings together researchers, developers, innovators, managers, funders, publishers, policy makers, leaders and educators to explore best practices and the future of research software. The themes of the CW21 keynote presentations, discussion groups, mini-workshops, collaborative ideas, and hack day will be around the following areas of research software: FAIR Research Software, Diversity & Inclusion and Software Sustainability. To find out more information, see the agenda and view the call for submissions, please visit the CW21 website.
The Society is organising a mini-workshop on “The RSE landscape: Central, service, embedded, academic – what is your RSE type, and how do you want to develop it?”. We hope to see you there!
Viewpoint: Research’s ‘lone genius’ image is unhelpful – The new UKRI chief executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser has written an opinion piece, ending with the following paragraph: “Looking for 101 different jobs in research and innovation. – To get the ball rolling, I am delighted to be collaborating with the Minister for Science Research and Innovation, Amanda Solloway, to find 101 people, doing 101 different jobs that make major contributions to research and innovation, but who are not researchers and innovators. If you are one such person, or work with one and would like to participate in this project please email your suggestion to [email protected]. I am also keen to hear about other ideas and initiatives that could support a more inclusive definition of the research and innovation system.”
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 April 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.
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.
|EPCC||April 19,26-28||March 5th|
|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
US-RSE DEI Working Group Speaker Series presents Cherri Pancake – “Can we change the face of computing?” . The US-RSE DEI-WG is working to bring to the US-RSE community quarterly visits from RSE professionals with vested interests or research into DEI in the RSE community at large. Our community pledges to continually educate ourselves through research on best practices focused on diversity, equality, and inclusion. The US-RSE is committed to providing an inclusive environment with equitable treatment for all and to promoting and encouraging diversity throughout the RSE community. We encourage everyone to suggest speakers and topics and are open to different formats and timelines of the events. Feedback is much appreciated.
POP Webinar – Debugging Tools for Correctness Analysis of MPI and OpenMP Applications. Debugging application code accounts for significant time during code development, which different studies estimate to be about 40-60% of the total development time. Debugging parallel code is even harder, as bugs might depend on the scheduling and scaling of the execution. We have seen applications to only fail at large scale, while succeeding at lower scale. This 30-minute webinar presents two runtime correctness analysis tools for MPI and OpenMP, freely available under open-source licenses, which allow analysis even during large-scale execution. MUST is an MPI runtime correctness checking tool, which observes the execution of an MPI application and reports a broad range of portability issues, as well as deadlocks and data races. Archer is an OpenMP-aware dynamic data race detection tool. Archer supports different modes for thread-centric or task-centric analysis. Archer is included in the latest LLVM releases (starting from 10). Combining both tools for hybrid MPI + OpenMP applications enables unprecedented runtime analysis of data races in multi-threaded MPI communication.
HER+Data MCR (“Her plus Data Manchester”) is a community working to connect, inspire, support and empower the NW UK’s Women in Data! We meet on the 2nd Thursday of each month.
Registration is now open for two linked events in the world of data curation: the 16th International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC21) and the 17th Plenary of the Research Data Alliance, taking place during the week beginning Monday 19th April 2021. Registration for either event also allows you to attend a joint unconference which will bridge the interests of the two communities. All events will be taking place online only. You can register to attend the Plenary (including the joint RDA/IDCC
Unconference) at https://rdavp17.eventbrite.co.uk . Early bird rates will be available until 2nd of April 2021. (edited)
BBSRC are holding an online workshop on 29 April 2021 to explore Computing in the Biosciences. They are particularly keen to include research software engineers and computational scientists both working in bioscience and collaborating with bioscientists. This is a really good opportunity for RSEs and related technical professionals to engage with BBSRC and to raise our profile.
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.
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] .
New episodes of the Code for Thought podcast:
New episodes of the RSE Stories podcast:
- “Mental Wellbeing in academia – staying healthy as a Research Software Engineer” by Dave Horsfall from Newcastle University.
- Data Ethics Club discusses “#bropenscience is broken science”.
- Mario Wolczko is an ex University of Manchester researcher and long time senior staff member with Oracle Labs in California. He kindly sent in this blog piece, written by colleagues at Oracle Research. Note particularly the collaboration they have with researchers at Royal Holloway University of London.
- Manchester Research Software engineers Anja Le Blanc and Douglas Lowe recently ran a five day scripting workshop for NERC funded Environmental Science PhD students. At the end of the blog is a link to the GitHub of source materials.
- On the SSI web site Gillian Law discusses “Can we improve the sustainability and reusability of academic surveys?”
- CSCCE March’s community call recap – Sharing our collective learnings from a year of running and attending virtual events.
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.
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)
Join the (informal) chats of the Belgium Research Software Engineers community on https://gitter.im/be-rse/.
Dates for the joined monthly calls of the Open Science und Research Software Engineering communities can be found here.
New meet-ups are scheduled for NL RSE. Interested in proposing a workshop, talk, or some other contribution? Get in touch!
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).
New US RSE events and training are scheduled.
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group Speaker Series starts off with a featured talk by Cherry M. Pancake on March 25: “Can We Change the Face of Computing?“
Collect your gold star here if you’ve read all the way to the end!