Fellows newsletter: November 2020

Posted by j.laird on 2 November 2020 - 2:00pm

Computer saying stay connected
Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona 

Welcome to this month's SSI Fellows Newsletter which shares activities and opportunities taking place within the Fellows' community. Read on for:

  • Fellows' Spotlight: Leandro Liborio and Jez Cope
  • October Community Call recap
  • Fellows' and related activities
  • Upcoming events and calls

Fellows’ Spotlight

Leandro Liborio (2019 Fellow), Computational Scientist at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, STFC, UKRI.

  • Updates from call - Presentation title: “Sustainable Software for Large Scale Experiments: The Ada Lovelace Project on Muon Spectroscopy”. This work is in collaboration with 2018 SSI’s fellow Alejandra González Beltran. The main aims of the project are: 1) the development of sustainable software for large scale experiments and 2) the development of a community of practice for the people involved in this type of software. In particular, we are focused on developing software for muon experiments, which is a type of experiment that is performed in the lab. This work is part of our SSI’s fellowships but it is also being supported by extra funding that we won from the Ada Lovelace Centre. This Centre is a cross-disciplinary and data intensive science centre, which has been established to improve the exploitation of the research that is carried out at the large scale National Facilities of the UK.
  • My non-work highlight of 2020 - I am a swimmer and, when the quarantine started, all swimming pools were closed. So, after some months of just running, I took up swimming in the rivers Cherwell and Thames (I live in Oxford). Two important things: never go alone and always remember: the water is cold, very cold.
  • My recommendations - Book: “Big Blondes”, by Jean Echenoz.
    Podcast: “The Last Archive”, Season 1. A podcast hosted by U.S. historian Jill Lepore.  

Jez Cope (2020 Fellow), Data Services Lead, The British Library

  • Updates from call - It seems like a lifetime ago I opened an exciting email telling me I’d been awarded an SSI Fellowship to pursue my proposal of developing a support network for people wanting to develop data science skills in the cultural heritage sector. Then along came a global pandemic, I lost a team member (to a new, exciting job opportunity, don’t worry!) in the midst of a recruitment freeze, and everything changed. I’m incredibly grateful to the Institute for immediately extending our fellowships by six months, and it’s only recently that I’ve had the headspace to come back round to looking at how the project will have to change. I can’t be the only one in this position, so I’m hoping to be able to have a good discussion with other Fellows about how we’re all dealing with the changes that COVID-19 has forced on us.
  • My non-work highlight of 2020 - I’ve been honoured for the past couple of months to be a mentor as part of the Open Life Science programme (run by Fellows Yo Yehudi and Malvika Sharan with Bérénice Batut). It’s a great initiative that came out of the Mozilla Open Leaders programme that aims to equip participants with the skills and confidence to be a champion for Open Science in their own fields.
    Separately, being able to go swimming outdoors has definitely helped save my sanity over the last few years and it was fantastic to go to the Lake District a few weeks ago to swim in the clear, icy waters of Crummock Water and Buttermere. I definitely recommend
    finding a swimming spot near you!
  • My recommendations - I’m currently reading Reni Eddo-Lodge’s excellent Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, which is a tough read at times but worth it.
    On a lighter note, I’ve also recently enjoyed the Rotherweird Trilogy by Andrew Caldecott, Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti series, Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries, Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series… The list goes on: hit me up if you have science fiction & fantasy recommendations, or want some!
    On a more techie note, I’m currently loving the
    nix package manager (and NixOS) which makes it trivial to set up isolated, reproducible development environments without mucking about with VMs or containers.

Community Call Recap 

During the October SSI Fellows Community Call, we heard Fellows’ updates from Leandro Liborio and Jez Cope. In breakout rooms, we discussed supporting each other and building communities, creative ways to use Fellowship funds in a COVID-19 world, and where traditional university education is headed. You can watch the recording here.

Fellows’ and related activities

  • Huge congratulations to Becca Wilson who has been featured in The Shaw Trust 2020 Disability Power 100 List! The list celebrates 100 of Britain's most influential disabled people, and Becca has been named as one of just four people on the list in the Science category.
  • Cultural Heritage Data Science Network - Jez Cope’s Fellowship plan to kickstart a cultural heritage data science network at the British Library for librarians, curators, archivists, cataloguers, researchers, software engineers, marketers, finance & HR professionals and anyone else working in the field of cultural heritage. The network aims to support members to help each other and others to develop confidence, understanding and skills in statistics and data science to make the most of data, improve decision making and ensure data is used ethically in the Cultural Heritage sector. Learn more and get involved via the project GitHub.
  • Ally Skills Training workshops - Community building can involve  learning to step up for others when you notice something unfair, exclusionary, or discriminatory, and if you are in a position of privilege and feel safe to speak up – a trait known as “Ally Skills”. Malvika Sharan and Yo Yehudi are running two virtual Ally Skills training sessions to give interested participants the chance to learn and practise them.

Upcoming events and calls

  • Invitation to Quote For Developing Carpentries-Style Course Materials To Aide Data Science - The SSI is currently supported by the Scottish Funding Council’s (SFC) Upskilling Fund to deliver a programme of data skills training in line with the SFC’s strategy for upskilling the Scottish workforce. We are inviting quotes for the provision of a course curriculum on either of the following two topics:
    • a standalone statistics course focussing on a collection of basic and intermediate statistical skills
    • a standalone course on Machine Learning focussing on the basic skills required by data scientists for discovering patterns in data

The total funding available for the project to bid for is £12,500, and it will be shared between up to two successful bids. Deadline for submissions is 15 November 2020. See the full invitation to quote on our website.

  • Challenges for Computational Reproducibility - The RDA CURE-FAIR Working Group is gathering user stories to better understand the particular challenges for all those involved in making computational reproducibility possible or attempting computational reproducibility. The goal is to provide a set of guidelines for preparing materials to better achieve this. Please submit your pain-point stories for computational reproducibility by using this form.  
  • Code Review Community Working Group - F1000 Research have set up a ‘community working group’ to see if and how publishers, institutions, and other stakeholders can support research code review as part of or in addition to the software article publication process. The next call will focus on the working group’s 2021 plan.
    • Date: 4 November 2020, 15:00-16:00 GMT
    • Location: Online
    • Link: Please email Hollydawn Murray for more information and the connection details for the call.
  • Identifying technologies that will be important to the UK in 2040 and beyond - As part of UKRI’s ongoing Horizon Scanning and emerging technologies they are crowdsourcing ideas from key stakeholders across UKRI as to technologies that will be important to the UK in 2040 and beyond. EPSRC have asked for responses to be submitted via the online survey, which is open for input until 15 November. 
  • JROST 2020 Conference - The “Joint Roadmap for Open Science Tools” 2020 Conference is a virtual event designed to hold space for the community of practitioners building, maintaining, and advocating for open tools to support research and collaboration. The theme for this year is “Collaboration in Action”, and will showcase the value and need for working together on open, shared solutions to further research and scholarship, especially in these trying times.

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