A laptop half open with surrounding text describing the Society of RSE newsletter.

Newsletter – September 2020

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

Newsletter Contents:
>Society Update
>Community info
>Blog posts
>RSE Worldwide

Society Update

Annual General Meeting and Trustee Elections

The Society Annual General Meeting was held on Monday 7th September at 2pm BST and you can view the recording on the Society youtube channel.   The purpose of the AGM is for the trustees to update the Society’s members (non members are welcome too) on the work we’ve achieved in the past 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.  Trustee elections were opened at the AGM and the voting period recently ended on the 28th September. The election results will be announced in early October and we will feature profiles of the new trustees in the October newsletter.

RSE Society Feedback and Discussion Session

We want to hear from you! The purpose of this session is to provide the RSE community with the opportunity to discuss ideas for the Society. It is important to us that the Society is shaped by the needs and priorities of the whole RSE community and we are keen to hear from anyone who might identify as an RSE, whether or not you are currently a member of the Society. The session will be held on Tuesday 27th October 2020 at 10:30 – 12:00 GMT. Register here to attend.

Membership to the Society

We currently have 339 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

RSE Slack

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/

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 in the Autumn, get in touch with Claire.  The Society supports meetings for RSE Leaders, which are normally in person twice a year but now that we are all online, we are trialling a move to having more frequent meetings. 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.

Society 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.


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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. Our programme is looking great with all sorts of events filling the weeks of October, November and into December already.

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.

Supercomputing Wales Achievements and Outputs 2017-2020 Report
The national supercomputing research facility for Wales has recently published their report that summarises the key developments since 2017. It includes how the investment in the facilities, RSEs, technical staff and other specialist staff has enabled high-profile research and innovation projects across Wales. It includes a series of case studies from across the consortium which highlights the work of the RSEs.

An evening with Stephen Fry and Venki Ramakrishnan – Join actor, comedian and author Stephen Fry for an exclusive evening of conversation as he explores establishing trust in science and how individuals can make rational and objective decisions with Nobel Prize-winning biologist and President of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan.  Organised by The Royal Society.

de-RSE Elections
They had their AGM on 27 August online and have elected a new board, which is 5/6 the old board: Chair: Frank Löffler (Friedrich Schiller University Jena); Deputy Chair: Daniel Nüst (Münster University); Secretary: Bernadette Fritzsch (Alfred Wegener Institute); Deputy Secretary: Stephan Druskat (German Aerospace Center (DLR); Treasurer: Stephan Janosch (MPI Dresden); new Deputy Treasurer is Florian Thiery (Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM)).

Sustaining Digital Humanities: Important developments in the UK Landscape
Two new reports have been published making a set of recommendations to further develop the Digital Humanities landscape. Read more about the reports on the Software Sustainability Institute website.



JupyterCon brings together data scientists, business analysts, researchers, educators, developers, core Project contributors, and tool creators for in-depth training, insightful keynotes, and practical talks exploring the Project Jupyter platform. The 5th-9th October for Tutorials, 12th-16th for the Conference and the 17th October the sprints. Registration is open now.


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 Thursday, November 12. 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 have talks on current activities and plans of national RSE organizations, and panel discussions on the needs of RSEs and RSE groups. We’re finalizing the schedule and will have more details posted here soon

11th Annual Women in HPC Workshop will be held online at Supercomputing (SC20) on November 11th starting at 10:00 AM (US Eastern). This workshop brings together the HPC community to discuss the growing importance of increasing diversity in the workplace and will recognize and discuss the challenges of improving the proportion of women in the HPC community, and is relevant for employers and employees throughout the supercomputing workforce who are interested in addressing diversity. 


Nordic RSE Conference
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.

Research Software Developers Day – 3rd December 2020
Join the Be-RSE group at their first online event. They are still accepting talks or workshops and registration is now open.


  • Reproducible data science: How hard can it be?‘ Dr Kirstie Whittaker and Dr Sarah Gibson join The Turing Podcast for a discussion about the reproducibility of scientific research, why this is such an important topic and what The Alan Turing Institute is doing to promote best practices in reproducible data science.
  • Episode 34, Rachael Ainsworth is interviewed on the podcast ‘How AI Built This‘ talking about doing a PhD and what her current role of Research Software Community Manager involves at the Software Sustainability Institute.
  • Four new episodes on the RSE Stories podcast series – ‘Publish without Perish’, ‘The Wisdom of the Systems Engineer’, ‘R for Reproducibility’, ‘Establish or Perish’ and we wish the RSE Stories podcast series a Happy 1 year Birthday!

Community info

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.

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!


  • Research Software Sustainability‘ – a talk about software sustainability given as a guest lecture in LaTech CSC 532 from Daniel S. Katz
  • Science as Amateur Software Development‘ from Richard McElreath. Abstract: ‘Science is one of humanity’s greatest inventions. Academia, on the other hand, is not. It is remarkable how successful science has been, given the often chaotic habits of scientists. In contrast to other fields, like say landscaping or software engineering, science as a profession is largely *unprofessional*—apprentice scientists are taught less about how to work responsibly than about how to earn promotions. This results in ubiquitous and costly errors. Software development has become indispensable to scientific work. I want to playfully ask how it can become even more useful by transferring some aspects of its professionalism, the day-to-day tracking and back-tracking and testing that is especially part of distributed, open-source software development. Science, after all, aspires to be distributed, open-source knowledge development.’
  • How supercomputers are helping in the fight against COVID-19‘ from Syma Khalid, Professor of Molecular Biophysics at the University of Southampton. This short interview discusses how high performance computer ARCHER has provided computational resource and brought researchers together to tackle COVID-19.


Blog Posts

RSE Worldwide

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. 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.

de RSE

de-RSE Elections
They had their AGM on 27 August online and have elected a new board, which is 5/6 the old board: Chair: Frank Löffler (Friedrich Schiller University Jena); Deputy Chair: Daniel Nüst (Münster University); Secretary: Bernadette Fritzsch (Alfred Wegener Institute); Deputy Secretary: Stephan Druskat (German Aerospace Center (DLR); Treasurer: Stephan Janosch (MPI Dresden); new Deputy Treasurer is Florian Thiery (Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM)).


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.

Nordic RSE

Initially we have planned for October 21-22, 2020 and our attempt to move the conference to December 2021 did not seem realistic enough due to uncertainties around the COVID-19 situation. The conference is not cancelled but postponed to May 2021, still in Stockholm. We will of course continue monitoring the situation and inform you in due time. In the meantime, we will organize online events.


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.

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About the author: cwyatt