Software and research: the Institute's Blog

View of the 260 tonne water tank that will house the LZ experiment
View of the 260 tonne water tank that will house the LZ
experiment, located 1 mile underground in Davis Cavern of
the Sanford Underground Research Facility, South Dakota.
Credit: Carlos Faham, Berkeley Lab.

By Mike Jackson, Software Sustainability Institute

85% of the mass of the Universe is made up of dark matter. Despite indirect evidence of the existence of dark matter, going all the way back to the early 20th century, there has, so far, been no direct measurement of dark matter interacting with a detector here on Earth. Not yet at least, for the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) project are building the largest and most sensitive dark matter detector of its type ever constructed. I will be providing consultancy to LZ’s researchers at University College London on migrating LZ’s data storage and analysis software from Microsoft Excel to a database-centred solution.

The LUX-ZEPLIN project is a consortium of 230 scientists in 37 institutions in the U.S., U.K., Portugal, Russia, and Korea and is joint-funded by the US Department of Energy and the UK Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC). LZ are building their dark matter detector a mile underground in the…

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RSE conferenceBy Catherine Jones, Diversity Chair.

Why did the RSE Conference have a diversity chair? What was the impact? What can we do better next time? These are the three questions I hope this blog will answer.

Different backgrounds and experiences enhance a team and help to avoid group think. Diversity has many different aspects, but the main two that the RSE conference focussed on were gender and ethnicity. It was an aspiration that the conference organisers, speakers and attendees reflected the makeup of the RSE community. Having someone responsible for diversity ensured that it was consciously considered during planning. As part of this commitment to diversity, the RSE Conference had a diversity statement  and code of conduct.

Who organised it?

What was the makeup of the committee? This was remarkedly gender balanced for the domain, the chart belows shows the gender split. Sadly it wasn’t very ethnically diverse.

Gender on committee

Who contributed?

Of the registered attendees 72% were male, 16% were female and 12% preferred not to say or didn’t answer. So that for those who identified their gender 18% were female. Looking at ethnicity: 76%…

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Participants of #hgfos16By Stephan Janosch, Research Software Engineer at Max-Planck-Institute for Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden

RSEs in Germany

A handful of people from Germany attended the first Research Software Engineers conference #RSE16. However, few as they may have been, they made a plan: to transfer the community spirit among research software engineers from the UK  back to Germany. After some discussion, we decided  to register the domain http://www.de-RSE.org and set up a website and a mailing list.

Once the mailing list was online, a big surprise was posted within a few days: a free open science workshop for 70 people on scientific software would take place on November 2016 in Germany. Now, that would be the perfect chance to kick start a German RSE community, wouldn’t it?

Workshop—“Access to and reuse of scientific software”

November was upon us faster than expected, and so was the 1.5-day workshop (hashtag: #hgfos16) about accessibility and reuse of scientific software, organised by the Helmholtz Open Science office. An audience of 77 people, as diverse as that at #RSE16, listened to three…

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Fellows selection dayBy Shoaib Sufi, Community Lead, Software Sustainability Institute.

It was a mild 2nd of November in the city of Manchester, UK. 29 candidates and nine reviewers congregated in the Atlas rooms of the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester to present their work, take part in discussions, network and be reviewed to see who would be chosen as an Institute Fellow 2017.

Who, how, what; rapid introductions

Each candidate presented an introduction to their professional persona, what they do and what they would do as a fellow. They each had four minutes to present while the reviewers were speedily writing down notes and scores around the content and style of the presentation and the other candidates listened on attentively.

There was some time for questions after the presentations. The focus on the ensuing discussions was on testing and the lack of recognition for spending time on ‘doing software correctly’ in the race to results and publication. The latter issue is a common theme in the workshops and discussions held at the various events run by the Institute and by the wider research software community. There is not a consistent emphasis on doing the computation properly as the results are what is currently being most valued with not enough importance being placed on…

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Leeds CityBy Shoaib Sufi, Community Lead.

The Collaborations Workshop (CW) is the Institute’s premier event series. It brings together key members of the research software community: researchers, developers, managers, legal, admin, publishers, funders and leaders and more. Attendees present, discuss, build, make, network and explore key and current areas of the research software landscape. The Collaborations Workshop 2017 (CW17—#CollabW17) will take place in the green City of Leeds at the plush Leeds University Business School, on 27th–29th March 2017. Leeds University was awarded University of the Year 2017.

Register for CW17 at Eventbrite.

CW17 is focused on the hot topics of The Internet of Things (IoT) and Open Data, both harbour the promise of deep changes to the way we interact with devices and data in the coming years, both also have a clear impact on research and are software driven. To find out more about these key areas, where they overlap, what impact they will have on research and how you might incorporate them into what you’re doing,…

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