James Hetherington

Research IT, Enterprise ITBy Laurence Billingham, British Geological Survey, David Golding, University of Leeds, Robert Haines, University of Manchester, Martin Hammitzsch, German Research Centre for Geoscience, James Hetherington, University College London, Simon Hettrick, Software Sustainability Institute.

This post is part of the Collaborations Workshops 2017 speed blogging series.

Universities need to strike a balance between risk and strategic opportunities (world-class research and world-class teaching). A semi-independent "sandboxed" service for research IT can deliver both, by isolating the stuff that needs to change fast from the stuff that needs to always work.

In mobile development, apps are "sandboxed" so that one app cannot break the phone. This analogy can work for services too. In research-led universities, we need…

Continue Reading

Path. Image by Miguel Carvalho. https://www.flickr.com/photos/miguelvirkkunen/4382242057/in/photolist-7Ff8Tx-4FaRUB-dJbcDz-4FpuLy-aswoX-8bRHjP-nMuH4k-4mkXSn-ngi9Rx-pMtkir-ajGwps-5cSUri-4nUhX1-6VGkWF-jwfTNF-fbv68g-e9Hst4-fdRKVP-4yirjk-aVRq58-bn3VPt-5UMJwb-saqPyz-4D1DEu-jwfuzM-i3RcZu-owH6UW-67F1wU-dcpvSR-4nrvzk-892xuZ-6U6HrJ-sjp8TD-5meAyX-e4h7uv-bvNZhf-fx476s-81zcov-aox41f-8oqksv-nNKakF-aAyhDv-7s9yhu-9G4XJu-it8wBd-5zobAE-biUXUF-9FkLjc-8YGjfD-57KRg2By Mark Stillwell, Cisco Meraki, Caroline Jay, University of Manchester,  Robert Haines, University of Manchester, Louise Brown, University of Nottingham, Jeremy Cohen, Imperial College London, Alys Brett, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, Shih-Chen Chao, University of Manchester, Raquel Alegre, UCL, James Davenport, University of Bath, and James…

Continue Reading

Research Software Development Team Leader, Research Computing and Facilitating Services, Information Services Division, University College London


Scientific software development. Software as scientific communication. Computable publication. Test driven design. Correctness and quality in scientific computing. Reproducibility, provenance and audit for research software. Domain specific languages. Programmability. Supercomputing. Refactoring. Science as a service. Deployment, stability and systems programming. Configuration management. Continuous integration. Multiscale modelling. Code sharing and reuse.


I am a research software developer, combining the skills and experience of a computational scientist with those of a professional software engineer. As leader of UCL’s new Research Software Development team, I work with researchers to produce maintainable, usable, well-tested scientific software that will have a lasting impact.

As a scientific software developer at UCL’s Centre for Computational Science, I worked to bring software engineering best practice into biomedical computational research projects, focusing on high-performance interactive, steerable models and simulations with clinical relevance.

As senior scientific innovator at AMEE UK Limited, I developedsystems to make it easier for organisations to understand their environmental impacts,…

Continue Reading

TenReasonsToBeAnRSE.jpgBy Chris Cannam, Dirk Gorissen, James Hetherington, Cass Johnston, Simon Hettrick and Mark Woodbridge.

Anthony Finkelstein wrote a great post about the benefits of being a software engineer: you can call yourself an engineer without getting your hands dirty, and you can wear jeans and a T-shirt to work (if you feel like being smart). All good points, but it got us thinking, whilst it may be good to be a software engineer, it's even better to be a research software engineer. And here's why.

(And if you're interested in this post, you should attend our workshop for research software engineers on 11 September in Oxford.)

1. Right at the cutting edge of science

You can read books and watch documentaries about research, but that's old news. If you really want to know what's going on, you have to work with the researchers themselves.

Research software engineers work right at the frontiers of science: they are the people who researchers work with in order to turn theories into results. And unlike researchers, Research Software Engineers don't have to pay for this privilege by writing papers.

2. Travel the world

Fancy a trip to Singapore, Rio, Hawaii, LA, Hong Kong, or Shanghai? Become a research software engineer.

We're not saying that you'll be…

Continue Reading

ScholarAndCraftsman.jpgBy James Hetherington, Research Software Development Team Leader at University College London.

At Digital Research 2012, I presented a position paper with colleagues regarding the role of the Research Software Engineer. This paper followed on from a discussion I led at the Collaborations Workshop and some very interesting blog posts by Dirk Gorissen and Ilian Todorov. Rather than repeat these discussions, I've written this post for those who think the Research Software Engineer role could be for them.

A quick note about the Research Software Development Team at UCL

With the establishment of the Research Software Development Team at UCL, I hope we're on the way towards establishing a successful home for scientific programmers. If you love learning about cutting edge research, and enjoy crafting robust, readable and efficient code, then please apply to…

Continue Reading
Subscribe to James Hetherington