The Software Sustainability Institute 2020 Fellows met for the first time during their Inaugural Meeting on Tuesday, 11 February 2020. We brought this year’s cohort of Fellows together at the University of Manchester to meet Institute staff, hear about the wide-ranging Institute activities, network with each other and discuss their Fellowship plans.
The meeting took place within the Department of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, which has made major contributions to the development of computing including the first stored program computer, the first floating point machine, the first transistor computer and the first computer to use virtual memory.
We began the day with an introduction to the Institute by Director Neil Chue Hong, who highlighted that the Fellowship Programme represents engagement and input from across the broad diversity of disciplines and organisations they support. We are working to change research culture to make it better for everyone, and we believe that our Fellows will help us change the world.Next, Community Team Lead Shoaib Sufi introduced the Community Team, key events taking place over the course of the Fellowship (namely Collaborations Workshop 2020!), collaboration within the Fellowship network, and advice and practicalities for carrying out Fellowship plans. Training Team Lead Aleksandra Nenadic discussed the importance of computational training in research, explained the training activities that the Institute is involved in - notably The Carpentries - and invited the Fellows to take part in Instructor Training. Finally, Deputy Director Simon Hettrick took on the task of introducing the Research Software Group, Policy/Research and Communications teams. He highlighted the Society of Research Software Engineering which works to support the creation of an academic career path for Research Software Engineers, and the hidden REF - an initiative that recognises all research outputs and every role that makes research possible.
We then got to hear from our 2020 Fellows, who introduced themselves, shared what their plans were for their Fellowships, and sought collaboration with each other where their plans overlapped. This is the primary motivation for the Inaugural Meeting to take place in person, and all but one of our 2020 Fellows were able to attend.
The last presentation of the day - and likely the most important one to our Fellows! - was from Project Officer Giacomo Peru, who walked everyone through how to access and use their £3k budget as part of their Fellowship.
For the final session of the day, the Fellows broke into three groups to discuss what they would want from semi-regular virtual cohort meetings; what questions/topics/issues they thought should be discussed under the themes of Open Research, Data Privacy and Software Sustainability at Collaborations Workshop 2020; what resources they recommend and use; and what further support they would like to receive from the Institute. Each group had five minutes to report back on their discussion and we’ll be planning our activities based on their contributions.
Before the meeting ended, we distributed our "Better Software Better Research" t-shirts to the Fellows, so keep an eye out for them at other research software events and at Collaborations Workshop 2020 where you can meet all 18 of our 2020 Fellows!
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