Highlights of the Fellowship Programme 2021 Launch Webinar

Posted by j.laird on 21 January 2021 - 9:30am

Rocket launch
Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

By Rachael Ainsworth, Community Manager, Software Sustainability Institute.

The SSI Fellowship Programme 2021 Launch Webinar took place on 14 January, providing information about the Institute, the Fellowship Programme, the application process and considerations with regard to COVID-19. It also included Fellowship experiences from SSI Fellows Reka Solymosi and Yo Yehudi. You can watch the webinar recording on YouTube and the presentation slides are available on Zenodo.

Applications to the Fellowship Programme are open until 5 February 2021.

Below is a summary of some of the key takeaways from the webinar.


Applicants must be based in the UK or have a formal and active affiliation with a UK-based institution or office. This affiliation is required at the time of application - for example, if you are a UK-based PhD student and your programme ends during the Fellowship period, you are still eligible to apply even if your plans for after your PhD have not been finalised. Your affiliation does not exclusively have to be with academia - you can be affiliated with any UK-based organisation or institution (such as the Civil Service) as long as you have time to carry out your Fellowship plans and attend required events (more on this below). If you are not currently based in the UK, please contact us in advance to check if you are eligible to apply.

Required Activities

Successful Fellows are expected to attend the Inaugural Meeting, where they will meet Institute staff and network with the other Fellows in their cohort (you can read about last year’s Inaugural Meeting here). The date and time of this meeting will be determined by poll to ensure that as many Fellows can attend as possible, but it will take place online during May 2021. Successful Fellows are also expected to attend the Collaborations Workshop, our premier annual unconference event which brings together the entire research software community. It’s a great opportunity to collaborate with other Fellows and explore best practices and the future of research software. Please note that all shortlisted 2021 applicants will be invited to register for this year’s online Collaborations Workshop 2021, and 2021 Fellows will be expected to participate in 2022 - currently planned to take place in Belfast.

Fellows are also expected to write a blog post for each supported activity. This increases the impact of each event through dissemination of any outcomes, lessons learned, and take home messages. Blog posts encourage the development of outreach and communication, and increase the Fellow’s profile through publication on the Institute website which receives over 20k visitors per month. Fellows are also very welcome to share blog posts based on their expertise and advice. You can read some recent blog posts from our Fellows here.

Considerations in light of COVID-19

Participating at in-person events is in no way mandatory due to COVID-19 as part of the Fellowship Programme 2021, and we encourage applicants to consider that travel and in-person events may not always be feasible. We particularly welcome proposals with online-based activities, such as organising or attending online workshops, attending virtual conferences, and the use of software and smaller hardware items (such as cameras and microphones) to enhance online events and activities. You can read how our current cohort of Fellows adapted their plans to make the most of their SSI Fellowship in a COVID-19 world. Please note that the Fellowship does not support paying for larger hardware items such as laptops or computers, or for staff time for developing software - the Fellowship is primarily focused on supporting you at, for and leading events.

Fellowship Experiences

We heard from SSI Fellows Reka Solymosi and Yo Yehudi (view Yo’s slides here) about their Fellowship experiences and what attracted them to apply for the programme. Both emphasised how much they enjoy the Fellows community, and how the benefits of being a Fellow extend far beyond the inaugural year. Reka described the Fellows as a group of interesting, talented and motivated people across a wide range of disciplines from both academia and other research-related industries, who are great to reach out to with any questions, for collaboration and inspiration. Beyond her inaugural year and through her Fellowship connections, Yo found an EngD supervisor, co-founded the non-profit training and mentoring organisation Open Life Science, and accidentally found a new job funding open source science in the middle of a pandemic!

When asked what advice they would give to potential applicants, Reka advises to propose something that you’re passionate about which aligns with the goals of the Institute - having an initial clear objective and understanding of your plans is important but also be prepared for your plans to change! Yo suggests collaboration: multi-person projects with people you enjoy working with helps to take pressure off. She also advises, “Videos take a long time to render - do not leave until the last minute!”

Please visit the Fellowship Programme webpage for further information and contact Rachael Ainsworth, Institute Community Manager at fellows-management@software.ac.uk with any questions.

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