Newsletter – May 2023
Welcome to the May newsletter from The Society of Research Software Engineering! Our bi-monthly newsletter announces new Society initiatives, gathers 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.
We currently have 673 paid-up members of the Society. Not yet a member? Why not join us today? Read about the benefits of being a member on our website.
We welcome people to become members who are not employed as RSEs but do support our mission. We are looking for one sentence, or one paragraph, contributions from such people to highlight the fact that we are about research software engineering and not just research software engineers. Several professors are active members of the Society, for example. Contact us at [email protected].
RSECon23 Registration, Volunteer, Awards Calls Open
Registration is now OPEN for RSECon23 in Swansea, on 5–7 September. In-person tickets are £330, and remote tickets £100, with a 10% discount for members of the Society of Research Software Engineering*. More details, and a link to the registration form, can be found at https://rsecon23.society-rse.org.
RSECon23 is also in need of volunteers to help facilitate the remote side of the conference. Remove volunteers receive a free remote ticket to the conference, and have the opportunity to attend sessions of their interest. To sign up as a volunteer or find out more, visit https://rsecon23.society-rse.org/volunteers/
Finally, the RSECon23 committee are looking to recognise outstanding members of the community in the 2023 RSE Society Award and Claire Wyatt Community Awards, in the categories of “Rising star”, “Training & Education”, and “Impact”. To find out more or nominate someone for an award, please visit https://rsecon23.society-rse.org/community-awards/.
* Society members should have received a discount code by email; please get in touch if that is not the case.
SocRSE Election of Trustees
The Society’s trustees have formed this year’s working group to run the elections of new trustees this September. More communication will follow in the coming weeks but nominations are planned to open in July.
We particularly encourage early-career applicants as well as individuals from groups that you think might be underrepresented. If you or someone you know would be interested and would like to learn more about the role of a trustee, we are organising an informal Q&A session on Friday 9 June at 2pm, register here: https://turing-uk.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJApce6prjsuGtGX_bwb2Zq8iBweKMRENx-1
If you have any questions, get in touch with the trustees at [email protected].
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is investing £103m to expand and upgrade the UK’s world class research infrastructure, including digital infrastructure.
A new report by the Commons Science, Innovation and Technology Select Committee highlights concerns over the reproducibility of scientific research.
EPSRC strategic technical platform: outline stage
Outline Deadline: 27th June 2023
This funding opportunity (up to £2M FEC for up to four years) supports research technical professional (RTP) groups in the UK including RSEs. RTPs may apply as PI or Co-I.
Submissions to this funding opportunity will not count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.
For over three years EPSRC has championed the role of the RTP and the research software engineer (RSE). These highly skilled and versatile community within the university sector have become increasingly prominent in the research community in this time due to initiatives such as the TALENT Commission, the Warwick Analytical Science Centre (WASC) and the Technician Commitment, among others.
Over this period EPSRC has begun to open up funding opportunities for RTPs that were not previously accessible. We are now launching this funding opportunity to fund strategic investments for systematic support, training and development to promote, enable and empower the RTP community in UK universities. These investments can be made in support of RTPs in both the physical and digital domains. Proposals should have a strategic regional or national focus, and may be based around a group of institutions or a particular scientific field or technology.
The proposals should offer a combination of personal and community-based activities and investments. You will need to describe how these investments will lead to the relevant RTP community gaining increased knowledge, skills and opportunities, and what the strategic benefit of this would be.
Examples of activities that could be considered include, but are not limited to:
- training opportunities (both in terms of new techniques and career development)
- secondments to other institutions or industries to train on new methods
- pump-priming access for facilities
- importing skills into the UK through visits to international facilities or hosting RTPs from internationally competitive institutes
- raising awareness of opportunities and community development
- conferences and workshops
- pilot projects and feasibility studies
- promotion and development of the role of RTPs in the context of universities in the UK (comparable to the ‘plus’ option of the current EPSRC Fellowship scheme)
Although not a funding opportunity requirement, applicants may wish to include a senior member of the host institution (such as a Dean of School or Pro Vice-Chancellor for example) to act as a champion to promote the RTP community at a high level.
The assessment will be a two-stage process:
- outline stage (this stage)
- full proposal stage: successful applicants at the outline stage will be invited to submit a full proposal, which will be assessed by an expert interview panel
A total of £6.5 million is available for this investment. Individual proposals should be in the range £750,000 to £2 million. A funding decision will be made in late 2023, with awards expected to start in April 2024.
This report was drafted in collaboration with the Open Source Policy Network, a network of OSS developers, maintainers, and stakeholders convened by the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative to develop community-led strategy and policy recommendations for OSS.
Call for Papers – RSE-HPC-2023
We are excited to announce the Research Software Engineers in HPC Workshop (RSE-HPC-2023) to be held as part of SC23 (hybrid event, in Denver, CO, USA and virtually). This will be a half-day workshop 8:30am-12:00pm MST (UTC-7), Sunday, November 12, 2023.
This 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 hear about successes and challenges that RSEs and RSE groups have experienced, and discuss ways to increase awareness of RSE opportunities and improve support for RSEs.
We encourage prospective participants to submit position papers (limit of 2 pages, not counting references; no format prescribed) on topics related to RSE issues. Papers and discussion topics should be submitted using the SC23 submission website. For more information, see the workshop website.
Let the Society support your RSE event!
Do you have an idea for an event about research software and supports the Society’s mission statement? The Society is here to help, why not submit a request to our Events and Initiatives Fund to help get your event going. You can submit a request via our Google form or contact us for a more informal discussion via [email protected].
Get involved with the new Comms and Publicity Working Group
The Society has recently agreed the formation of a new working group for Communications and Publicity. This working group is open to all Society members who want to get more involved in helping shape the work of the Society around the way we do Communications and Publicity. If you want to get involved with drafting the newsletter, expanding our social media output or shaping other communication based topics let us know via [email protected]
We’re looking for more case studies!
We want to show all the shapes and forms that RSEs come in, and all the brilliant work they do and are looking for RSEs willing to work with us to put together case studies. We will send you a set of questions to answer (either career-focused or EDI focused, your choice), and are very happy to have a chat if you are unsure about something or need help writing up your answers. Email [email protected] if you are interested or have any questions.
Sam Cox, on behalf of the RSE Midlands Organising Committee
Building on the success of the 2022 event in Birmingham, 24th April 2023 saw the second annual RSE Midlands Conference, hosted at the University of Nottingham, with 50 attendees from Birmingham, Warwick, Coventry, Nottingham, Cambridge, and Sheffield.
This year’s theme was ‘RSEs in Health Data’, which provided a focus for the morning’s agenda. We heard from Krishna Gokhale about the ongoing development of the Dexter platform for automating epidemiological studies; and Tom Giles about building a research portfolio in Health Data as an RSE group, collaborating across academia and industry. Both talks highlighted the increasingly critical role RSEs play in building infrastructure to enable research in the health data arena.
The afternoon featured a talk by Adam Seed from the Nottingham-based software company ENSEK, who focused on the organisational structure and challenges of a big-data SaaS company, which is very different from a traditional University RSE setting.
The event rounded off with lightning talks from the attendees, which were a particular highlight, demonstrating the extraordinary breadth of research areas RSEs work in, even within just a region of the UK.
Thank you to all the attendees for making the day so enjoyable, and to the volunteers for making sure the day ran without a hiccup!
We were grateful for sponsorship from the RSE Society to cover travel costs, and from Health Data Research UK, who funded the catering and merchandise to remind us of the event long after the day itself.
Finally, thanks are due to the 2022 team for their experience and advice in ensuring that nothing was forgotten in our planning for this event. We’re now looking for volunteer hosts for the next chapter!
Maria Broadbridge on behalf of the RSE South Workshop 2023 organiser committee
On Tuesday, 16th May 2023, members of RSE South, the regional research software engineering network in the UK South came together for the first time in person for the RSE South Workshop 2023. Hosted at the beautiful Meadow Suite at the University of Reading, delegates from many RSE groups and institutions across the South of the UK met for a day of talks, discussion and networking opportunities. In the lead up to the event, 50 delegates registered and the workshop saw an attendance of around 40 on the day.
The workshop was funded by the Open Research Action Plan at the University of Reading and inspired the theme of the event, namely ‘Sustainability and Reproducibility of Research Software’. Talks were centered around these fundamental pillars of reproducibility and also covering a wider range of RSE community topics. More information about the full schedule of talks can be found on the RSE South workshop website, https://rsesouth.github.io/workshop/.
It was clear that this first RSE South workshop was very much enjoyed by the community and for many attendees this was the first opportunity to meet community colleagues in person. The post-event survey received overwhelmingly positive feedback with comments centering around the highly interesting and inspiring talks and discussions. Many respondents highlighted the need for more networking and discussion time as well as an appetite for more RSE South community events of different formats, so this will certainly be taken into account for future planning. Look out for our upcoming RSE South activities which we will advertise on slack, our mailing list and the RSE South Website, https://rsesouth.github.io!
18:00 Fri 2nd June 2023
Are you curious about what is going with AI in the media and all the safety considerations and how one might be able to contribute? Then this talk is for you!
Title: Surveying AI Safety Research Directions
Speaker: Dan Hendrycks (Center for AI Safety)
Location: Zoom [https://ed-ac-uk.zoom.us/j/84463604528, passcode: DanHEdi23]
Abstract: ML systems are rapidly increasing in size, are acquiring new capabilities, and are increasingly deployed in high-stakes settings. In this presentation, I’ll give a whirlwind tour of directions in safety, namely withstanding hazards (“Robustness”), identifying hazards (“Monitoring”), reducing inherent ML system hazards (“Alignment”).
4 June 2023 PyData London keynote by trustee Martin O’Reilly
SocRSE trustee Martin O’Reilly will be giving one of the PyData London keynotes on 4 June 2023. It will be on the topic of RSEs and similar roles, exploring the similarities and differences between these and equivalent non-R(esearch) roles and how people can make the transition from non-R roles to RSE roles and similar.
Tuesday 6th June 2023, 13:00-14:00 BST (UTC+1) – Byte-sized RSE session 8 – README files
Registration now open!
In this final session of the first series of byte-sized RSE, we’ll look at the humble README file! Not a default and often ignored file in the root of your project directory but a hugely important place for a range of information that can make or break the success of your project – join us on Tuesday 6th June to learn more.
6 June 2023 18:00-19:00 ONLINE hosted by The Alan Turing Institute and Living with Machines
AI Beyond STEM: digital skills to unleash the power of data science and AI for all
Hosted by SocRSE Trustee David Beavan, what are the AI skills (and RSEs are part of that, right) needed in the big world outside of STEM? This online-only panel event will bring together experts from diverse backgrounds, including digital humanities, linguistics, zoology, and more, to discuss the digital skills that are essential for future success in their fields. We will explore the specific challenges and opportunities of applying these technologies in non-STEM fields and gather ideas for next steps in developing the necessary skills and knowledge. Then it is over to you, the audience, to pose questions of the panel and share your experiences.
- Kaspar Beelen, Technical Lead, Digital Humanities, School of Advanced Studies
- Mathilde Daussy-Renaudin, Ph.D. Candidate, UCL/Oxford University
- Lydia France, Research Data Scientist, The Alan Turing Institute
- Katie Ireland, DigiLab, University of Georgia
9 June 2023 14:00-15:00 – RSE Society Q&A with current trustees
Are you interested in the role of a trustee of the RSE Society? Are not sure if you would be a good fit? What type of activities is the society involved in and what are the responsibilities and opportunities of being a trustee? Come to this informal session with current trustees Matt Williams (current SocRSE president), Evelina Gabasova (vice-president) and Martin O’Reilly.
13 June 2023 – ChatGPT for teaching and/or learning to program
What are the benefits and pitfalls of using large language models like ChatGPT in our work and training? Learn more and register: https://rsse.africa/post/2023/05/rsse-africa-june/. This event is a collaboration between RSSE Africa and RSE Australia/New Zealand.
ScotRSE Launch Event – Wednesday 14th June 10-11 (Online)
For anyone interested in RSE in #scotland. The first meeting of the ScotRSE network will be an informal get together where we hear a little around community building and spend a little time thinking about our community. Please register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/scotrse-launch-event-tickets-645289758037. More info: https://scotrse.github.io/
14th June 15:00 – 17:00 2023 RSE Midlands Coding Club
The Club has a lot going on in June and July with a few talks happening including a ‘coding club takeover’ by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)
Covering the following topics:
- Sustaining software/Establishing an Open Source Community, e.g. IN-CORE
- Research software and data publication
- Co-production of software with researchers e.g. IN-CORE or CoverCrop
- Building and sustaining a team of RSEs
All are welcome to attend, you can find details of this talk and upcoming talks here:
We also have a mailing list to keep you up to date with RSE Midlands Coding Club events which you can join here:
19th to 30th June 2023 – SSI’s Research Software Camp
The SSI’s next Research Software Camp is taking place from 19 to 30 June 2023. Find out more about the Research Software Camp. The Software Sustainability Institute runs free online Research Software Camps once a year over the course of two weeks. Each Camp focusses on introducing basic research software skills and good practices, as well offering one-to-one support as part of our Learning to Code mentorship programme.
29 June 2023, 4 July 2023 and 15/16 August 2023 – Educating Engineers for Safe AI Workshops
The Alan Turing Institute, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Cambridge and UCL are organising a series of workshops to discuss “Educating Engineers for Safe AI” – including what RSEs should consider when using AI and ML.
More details and an Eventbrite page to sign up will be coming soon, but keep these dates in your diaries:
- Edinburgh: Thursday 29th June
- Cambridge: Tuesday 4th July
- Newcastle: 15/16 August
The first two workshops (Edinburgh/Cambridge) will allow RSEs at all levels to be better informed around current discussions on ethics and reliability of AI/ML and discuss their community’s biggest challenges. At the final workshop (Newcastle) participants will take the input from the other workshops to develop a roadmap for educating software and systems engineers (including RSEs) to create safe, ethical and trustworthy AI in their workplaces.
w/c 24th July 2023 – Digital Humanities Research Software Engineering Summer School 2023
Talks: 24 & 25 July 2023, 9.30am – 4.00pm UTC+1, Online
In-person Workshops: 27 & 28 July 2023, 10am – 5pm UTC+1, Cambridge, UK
The Summer School 2023 combines 2 days of online talks and 2 days of in-person workshops in Cambridge (by application). Participants will have an opportunity to gain an invaluable insight into the roles and practices of the Research Software Engineer in Digital Humanities research. The Summer School is co-organised by Cambridge Digital Humanities (Mary Chester-Kadwell), Edinburgh Centre for Data, Culture & Society (Lucia Michielin), King’s Digital Lab (Neil Jakeman) and The Alan Turing Institute (Federico Nanni). More details: https://www.cdh.cam.ac.uk/events/36442/
w/c 4th September 2023 – RSECon23
UK-based (at Swansea University) the SocRSE conference. Registrations – for both in person and remote attendance – are now open. Members of the Society should have received a coupon code for a discount. Contact [email protected] if you don’t have it, but are a fully paid-up member. Note: This discount also applies to people attending remotely. It’s worth joining the Society for the in person conference discount alone! Conference registration is here: https://register.oxfordabstracts.com/event/4430. The Call for Volunteers remains open: https://rsecon23.society-rse.org/volunteers/.
Also, if you can, please help us find organisations willing to sponsor the conference https://rsecon23.society-rse.org/sponsorship-packages-for-rsecon23/ – perhaps the very organisation you work for?
26–28 September 2023 deRSE Unconference 2023
An “Unconference”, you ask? For this event we let YOU create the programme! We offer a great location (Dornburger Schlösser, Jena), food, plenty of time and a lot of people interested in RSE, but the topics will come from you and we will make sure there are enough free slots for you to talk, code, write, and have fun. We have two different formats for you to fill: short talks with round tables and break-out sessions. To learn more and create your submission, go to the website https://un-derse23.sciencesconf.org/ . And we’re delighted to announce the keynote speakers joining us at the deRSE Unconference 2023 are
- Malvika Sharan from the Alan Turing Institute talking about ‘Open Science for enabling reproducible, ethical and community-driven research’; and
- Florian Mannseicher from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) talking about ‘Research Software and its management – a funders perspective’
Best wishes, Claire on behalf of the unconference orga team
16th to 18th October 2023 – US-RSE Conference
First US-RSE Conference will be in October this year Chicago, October 16 to 18, 2023
#Code4Thought episode [EN]: Meet Saranjeet Kaur and Jyoti Bhogal who talk to Peter Schmidt about their experiences to build a RSE community in India and beyond. Listen to it on your favourite podcast app, on https://tinyurl.com/45w7snsb , on YouTube https://youtu.be/GceOpPkhKoc or on Soundcloud https://on.soundcloud.com/zBFQ5.
#Code4Thought episode [EN]: in this #ByteSizedRSE episode is all about GIT, the version control system. Together with Raniere Silva from https://www.gesis.org/home we talk about some features and best practices. Listen to it on https://tinyurl.com/2bydunc6, your podcast app, YouTube https://youtu.be/YvfImXmnl2Y and Soundcloud https://on.soundcloud.com/HjcUu.
On the Developer Stories podcast, a special mini-series on Life Sciences Consulting! The first guest is Tyler Burns, and we explore his journey through graduate school, falling in love with programming, and many insights along the way! Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/0vKT2iEVuQAxRt05PwYh2B?si=Rzi5VLzvSh6XevARtvc7Qw Podcast site: https://rseng.github.io/devstories/2023/tyler-burns-part-1/ with links to Google Podcasts, and iTunes. If you’ve ever fantasised about going from science or programming to consulting, this mini-series will be of interest to you! Tyler is also one of those people that thinks about things deeply, and is a good storyteller, so I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I enjoyed recording it!
There are some interesting recent updates from the Manchester RSE department https://research-it.manchester.ac.uk/news/
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/.
Digital Research Alliance of Canada / Alliance de recherche numerique du Canada
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.
Upcoming and recurring events can be found on the events website!