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Fellows Newsletter: April 2023

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Fellows Newsletter: April 2023

Rachael Ainsworth

Rachael Ainsworth

SSI fellow

Posted on 5 April 2023

Estimated read time: 8 min
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Fellows Newsletter: April 2023

Posted by d.barclay on 5 April 2023 - 12:56pm Stay Connected written on a computerPhoto by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

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

  • Fellows' Spotlights: Alejandra Gonzalez-Beltran and Thibault Lestang
  • March 2023 Community Call recap
  • Fellows' and related activities
  • Upcoming events and calls

Fellows’ Spotlight

Alejandra Gonzalez-Beltran, Data and Software Engineering Group Leader, Scientific Computing Department, UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

  • Updates from call - My update was about the work we did in an interdisciplinary team, including epidemiologists, mathematical modellers, data scientists and data engineers, data policy experts, and software engineers to build an open-source FAIR data pipeline (https://www.fairdatapipeline.org,https://github.com/FAIRDataPipeline/). This work led by the Scottish Covid Response Consortium started under the auspices of the Royal Society Rapid Assistance in Modelling the Pandemic and continued with a grant from the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The objective was to build a tool supporting the annotation of data consumed by analysis, while also tracing the provenance of the scientific outputs back to the analytical or modelling source code and to the primary data. Thus, allowing us to track every step from data source to policy decision. More details about the pipeline can be found in the publication “FAIR Data Pipeline: provenance-driven data management for traceable scientific workflows” available in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A available at https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2021.0300 
  • My non-work highlight - I’m lately enjoying doing some furniture renovation, so playing with colour palettes and paints, and working through small cabinets, small tables, and mirror frames.
  • My recommendations - I love listening to podcasts on a variety of subjects: I really enjoy getting immersed in the sound experience. One podcast that made an impression on me was ‘The Lady Vanishes’, which is the first episode in the first season of the podcast series ‘Revisionist History’. Many of the episodes in the series are very good, but this one struck a chord with me as it describes a few examples of outsiders, mainly women, who open a closed door. While one could assume that once the door opens for one person it may open for everyone, the podcast continues to describe the concept of moral licensing, which comes from social psychology and paints a different picture. I hope you enjoy it when you listen to it from here: https://www.pushkin.fm/podcasts/revisionist-history/the-lady-vanishes 

Thibault Lestang, Senior Research Software Engineer, Department of Aeronautics, Imperial College London

  • Updates from call - Code review is a well-known quality assurance technique in software engineering that is largely absent from the research software development process.  Code review is interesting because it's not purely technical: the most relevant skills are pedagogy and empathy.  To address the lack of resources for researchers, I wrote guidelines for the Oxford Code Review Network.  Together with SSI fellow Mathew Bluteau and a few others, we drafted the Code Review Community guidelines which were introduced during Collaborations Workshop 2022. With D. Krzemiński and V. Maggio, both SSI fellows, we organised an online workshop for researchers to practice code review with mentors.  In contrast with the classical peer-review procedure, code review occurs throughout the research process.  From my experience practising code review with research groups, it's also not clear that it can be mimicked "as-is" from the software industry.  The remainder of my fellowship will be an opportunity to continue experimenting, as well as, if time allows, host an in-person code review workshop at Imperial College.
  • My non-work highlight - I'm writing this from the Bergenbanen train which connects Oslo and Bergen in southwestern Norway. It's about 7h30 hours long, but the breathtaking landscape makes it feel a lot shorter.
  • My recommendations - For anyone interested in software stories, Corecursive is my favourite podcast.

Community Call Recap

During the March 2023 SSI Fellows Community Call, we heard Fellows’ updates from Alejandra Gonzalez-Beltran and Thibault Lestang (click the links to watch the recordings). In discussion groups, we talked about translating Carpentries materials, policy engagement, and increasing diversity in an all-white male RSE Team. 

Fellows’ and related activities

  • Code for Thought - Code for Thought is a podcast on software, engineering, research and anything in between launched by SSI Fellow Peter Schmidt. Recent episodes include a conversation with SSI Fellow Malvika Sharan and others to discuss training and what can be done to fill the gap.
  • SSI AHRC Report on Digital/Software Requirements - The "Report on the AHRC Digital/Software Requirements Survey 2021" by SSI Community Lead Shoaib Sufi and SSI Fellows Emily Bell and Anna-Maria Sichani is now available. The original survey run by the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI) on the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UKRI AHRC) community aimed to understand the views on digital/software tools, the experience of developing such tools, the practices, learning intentions and preferences around how to resource projects involving digital/software. Read more in this blog post.

Upcoming events and calls

  • NERC Science Committee - The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is seeking candidates for its science committee who have: recognised expertise in their scientific discipline, insights to support NERC’s responsible business ambitions and ensure EDI is considered, experience in strategic planning and projections (in areas such as research, innovation, training and skills, infrastructure and services, or international partnerships). If you’re interested or know someone who would be great for this role advising NERC and UKRI on science and investment policy, please see this announcement for further details. 
  • Collaborations Workshop 2023 (CW23) - The Software Sustainability Institute’s Collaborations Workshop series brings together researchers, developers, innovators, managers, funders, publishers, policymakers, leaders and educators to explore best practices and the future of research software. The theme of CW23 is Sustainable Career Development for those in the research software community: looking after your software, your career, and yourself. Tickets for in-person participation have sold out, but registration for remote participation is open until 14 April (subject to availability). 
  • Association of Environmental Archaeology Virtual Spring Conference - The call for papers for the Association of Environmental Archaeology Virtual Spring Conference is open and the topic is: Data Science in Environmental Archaeology. To find out more and submit a paper see the website below. The deadline for submission is 31 March.
    • Date: 13 May 2023 - Conference day, 14 and 15 March - optional days of Basic R training
    • Link: https://envarch.net/news 
  • Research Software Camp - The next Research Software Camp will be held from 19th to 30th June 2023 on the theme of FAIR software. Over the course of two weeks, we will host a panel discussion, basic skills workshops (R, Python, visualisation, etc.) and a mentorship programme. We will also publish curated online resources throughout the two weeks of the Camp, addressing varying approaches to learning to code in academia. Our team will also be running a parallel social media campaign using #RSCamps on Twitter. 
  • RSE Conference 2023 - The seventh annual conference for Research Software Engineering will take place in Swansea. See the link below for more details and submission deadlines.

The monthly SSI Fellows Newsletter aims to share activities and opportunities taking place within the SSI Fellows' community. The newsletter will share a summary of the latest community call, as well as contributions and calls for collaboration from the SSI Fellows. We are looking for newsletter items related to events, webinars, workshops, resources, job and funding opportunities that SSI Fellows are involved in or looking for support with (submit via this Google Form). If you have any questions, please contact Community Manager Rachael Ainsworth at r.ainsworth@software.ac.uk 

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