CW montageBy Melody Sandells, Director at CORES Science and Engineering Limited and Institute Fellow

It was way back in 2012 when I first participated in a Software Sustainability Institute Collaborations Workshop.  As attendance was a condition of my fellowship I had to go, and I had no idea what to expect...

As it turned out, it was one of the best meetings I've ever attended alongside a mix of researchers, software engineers and people from funding bodies. There were some keynote speakers and lightning presentations, which were enthralling, entertaining and I seem to remember laughing quite a bit. There were lots of smaller group activities to discuss diverse topics, some that I knew nothing about but left caring deeply. The collaborations workshop has shaped me to this day more than I’d probably admit, and gifted me some of the colleagues I have now.

I’ve watched a few more collaborations workshops go by with green eyes, particularly the addition of Hack Days. If you want to judge the value of those then look no further than Robin Wilson’s Recipy. I have recently embarked on a new career direction outside traditional academia,…

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Charteris Land, EdinburghBy Shoaib Sufi, Community Lead.

Every year once the Fellowship starts, we get the Fellows together to give them the opportunity to learn about the different parts of the Institute (Training, Community, the Research Software Group, Policy, Communications and the Directorate) so they can better understand how we operate and how to interact with us to produce a good working relationship and better outcomes for their Fellowship.

This year we were in the lovely city of Edinburgh at Charteris Land, University of Edinburgh.  The Institute is headquartered in Edinburgh and it is where three of the new Institute 2017 Fellows are based, making it an ideal location for holding the inaugural. With 18 new Fellows, 14 were there in person, two connected via Skype, one sent a video and only one could not be involved.

The Institute Director, Neil Chue Hong gave an introduction to the Institute, its teams and how it operates; he highlighted Fellows as…

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PhD Candidate, School of Mathematics, University of Southampton


Astrophysics, general relativity, modelling fluids in strong gravitational fields (general relativistic hydrodynamics), burning and explosions, neutron stars, high performance computing, parallel computing

My work

In my PhD research, I model explosions that occur on the surface of neutron stars. From some of these stars, flashes of X-ray radiation are frequently observed. These are thought to be produced by nuclear explosions in a liquid surface layer. Neutron stars are very extreme objects which rotate several hundred times per second and have incredibly strong gravitational fields. I'm investigating what the effects of these strong fields and fast rotation might be on the physics of the explosions. I do this by building numerical simulations, using parallel computing to allow me to run high resolution models in a reasonable length of time. 

As part of my work, I have both built my own codes and used codes built by others in my scientific field. In the process, I have found that often these codes were built primarily with science in mind and therefore could be improved from a software sustainability point of view. It is my goal to use the SSI fellowship to educate my fellow researchers in the importance of reproducible, well tested and well documented code, show how to build more sustainable code and demonstrate how existing codes can be improved so that they meet higher standards of software sustainability. 

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James Baker accepts British Library Labs awardLibrary Carpentry (lead by the James Baker, Software Sustainability Institute Fellow 2015) wins the British Library Labs 2016 award for Teaching and Learning on 7th November 2016.

James is using the award fund to run even more Library Carpentry workshops (see the Library Carpentry workshop call).

What is Library Carpentry?

Library Carpentry is made by librarians, for librarians to help you:

  • automate repetitive, boring, error-prone tasks
  • create, maintain and analyse sustainable and reusable data
  • work effectively with IT and systems colleagues
  • better understand the use of software in research
  • and much more…

Library Carpentry introduces you to the fundamentals of computing and provides you with a platform for further self-directed learning. Find out more about Library Carpentry activities.

British Library Labs Awards 2016

The annual BL Labs Awards, introduced in 2015, recognises outstanding and innovative work that has been carried out using the British Library’s digital collections and data. This year, they commend work…

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If you were not able to attend the Fellowship 2017 Informational Webinar, a recording of this event has been made available on the Institute's SoftwareSaved YouTube channel: 

Fellowship 2017 Programme

It's worth watching if you are thinking of applying for a fellowship.

Fellows 2017 imageApplications for the Software Sustainability Institute Fellowship Programme 2017 are now open.

The Institute's Fellowship programme funds researchers in exchange for their expertise and advice.

The main goals of the Programme are gathering intelligence about research and software from all disciplines, encouraging Fellows to develop their interests in the area of software sustainability (especially in their areas of work) and aiding the Fellows as ambassadors of good software practice in their domains. The programme also support capacity building and policy development initiatives. 

Fellows come from a variety of career stages, they demonstrate a passion for their area, the ability to communicate ideas effectively, and a real interest in the role of software in research. Fellows are empowered to talk about software in their research domain to a wider audience, network with others who share a passion for software in research, and learn key skills that benefit them and their collaborators.​

You have to be a UK based researcher when applying for Fellowship, but once you are a Fellow even after your initial funding period you remain a Fellow even if you are then based outside of the UK (terms and conditions do apply). Please see the FAQ for more details about eligibility.

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Please watch the recording of the Launch Webinar for the Fellowship Programme 2017 to find out more.

Slides are available at:

Introduction to the Institute & the Fellowship Programme  by Shoaib Sufi

Fellows experiences:

For more information, visit the Fellowship Programme page.


Normally after an hour of discussion on a research software related topic at a workshop, a discussion group would stand up for 2-3 minutes and present back their findings (e.g. problems, solutions, future work or however they chose to speak about a topic). However without context the notes produced from such a session were not of much use to the wider research software community after the workshop. So, what's the solution?

As well as a discussion, the group should also produce the outputs as a blog. We trialed this at the Fellows Inaugural meeting in Feb 2016 and Institute Fellow, Melodee Beals coined the term 'speed blogging' which we now use.

Speed blogs (i.e. outputs from a speed blogging session) can be completed and be publication read during the allotted time at an event or they can be started during a discussion but completed over email, face to face (etc) but after the time for the initial discussion and blog, i.e. sometime after the initial session. In any case we simply refer to them as speed blogs.

Both pathways capture the energy and enthusiasm generated during the initial discussions and writing.

Tips for writing collaborative speed blogs

Blogs are written but you may sometimes choose a different format…

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Python HPCBy Oliver Laslett, SSI Fellow and PhD Candidate at the University of Southampton.

Nearly 12,000 keen people visited the exhibition floor of Supercomputing 2015, among the flashing LEDs and towering racks of computers, it was easy to feel that you are experiencing computation at its physical limits; a world of highly optimised hardware and software built for maximum performance. Yet it was obvious that Python, the most popular language for teaching introductory programming, has become an integrated component of the HPC stack.

Python is known for its very expressive language, easy to read syntax, large community, and impressive range of extension modules. Whilst these advantages have not historically been enough to warrant a replacement of compiled languages, Python has regularly come to be used as a program glue due to its ability to interface so easily with external applications.

However for scientific research, where time is precious and software development must compete for resources…

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mentoring workshopBy Robert Haines, Caroline Jay and Suzanne Embury, School of Computer Science, University of Manchester

A new software engineering curriculum

How can we replicate (or at least provide a taste of) real software engineering in an undergraduate course unit?

We've been asking that question in the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, as part of a radical redesign of our software engineering curriculum. Students on the new course will be working on open source software, writing tests, fixing bugs and using continuous integration, in an environment much closer to the one that they will experience after their degree than the green field development currently typical of undergraduate teaching.

Developing an industry-relevant course requires close collaboration with industry, and we've been talking to companies throughout the development of the programme. We also thought it would be great if our students could have some first-hand contact with industry while they are learning. This could provide many advantages, from ensuring students understood the value of what they were learning, to providing them with job opportunities. Seamlessly integrating industry involvement into an academic programme could be tricky though. What's the best way to make it work?

To explore this issue, we organised a…

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