Fellowships - what's it like being a Fellow?

Posted by s.sufi on 19 September 2014 - 5:37pm

By Stephen Eglen, senior lecturer in Computational Biology at the University of Cambridge and 2014 Institute Fellow.

I first heard about the Software Sustainability Institute in 2013, when Laurent Gatto and I were planning an R programming bootcamp.

I have long been a believer in the open sharing of software, and so I was glad to read about many of the complementary issues that the Institute has promoted, both within the UK and worldwide. Another thing that convinced me to apply was that a respected colleague in the R community, Barry Rowlingson, was also a Fellow.

I found the application procedure refreshingly short and straightforward. The most useful thing in the process was to propose what I would do in the course of the Fellowship. I had been discussing with colleagues in the neuroscience community about ways in which we could encourage data and code sharing.

These ideas then became the focus of the application. Interviews are normally stressful, but the selection day in November 2013 was a lot of fun, and a good chance to meet a wide range of academics also interested in the theme of software sustainability. It was also very encouraging to see many PhD students and postdocs promote a forward-looking view of software sustainability. As an aside, I hope this does mean that in ten years, the situation regarding software sustainability in science will be a lot better than what it is now.

I have enjoyed immensely being a Fellow, part of an academically and geographically widespread community where we can share both ideas and good practice. The annual meeting was a great success, and I learnt many things about more modern ways to encourage reproducibility, such as through virtualisation environments and GitHub.

This December, I will lead a workshop on code and data sharing in neuroscience, supported by the Institute together with the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility. I am sure this workshop will benefit greatly from working with the Institute on these aims. I see one key benefit of the Institute lies in how it helps good ideas translate from one academic discipline to another.

To sum up, the Institute has valuable collective wisdom on how to promote good practice in software sustainability, and I am proud to be part of the team!

Find out more about the Institute's Fellowship Programme.

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