US-RSE Newsletter

October 2019 Newsletter

Published: Oct 24, 2019

In this bi-monthly newsletter, we will share recent, current and planned activities of the US-RSE Association. Newsletters will be available on our website beside the growing resources and information on the US-RSE Association. A sign-up option for our newsletter is available here.

Report from PEARC19

The BoF at PEARC19 was well attended with about 30 people. A main part of the discussion was about the definition of RSEs. We would like to stay very inclusive, with members who see themselves as RSEs and also people who are interested in supporting the goals of US-RSE and RSE associations in general or are just interested in knowing about efforts around the sustainability of research software. The discussion revolved around beneficial activities for the community and what US-RSE could provide. Feedback included the need for sharing best and bad practices, lobbying RSE positions to executives, networking, advertising of open jobs, mentorship programs, platform for sharing expertise, interactions between academia, industry and national labs and support organizations in incentivizing good software engineering practices.

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alt text Results from PEARC19 interactive audience question “what is missing in the US-RSE definition?”

Learning Lab at Gateways 2019

Gateways 2019 took place in September in San Diego and the conference offered Learning Labs - conceptually a mixture of BoFs and break-out sessions - to spawn discussions about topics suggested by participants. Sandra Gesing suggested a learning lab about US-RSE and the lively discussion was mainly around how US-RSE can support career paths in the US and help with creating positions at institutions. One take-away is that templates for job descriptions would be helpful for managers offering RSE-like positions.

Talk at 4th UK RSE Conference

As part of the “RSE Worldwide: Sharing across borders” plenary session at RSEConUK2019, Daniel S. Katz presented a lightning talk entitled “US-RSE: Growing the Community” and was part of the session’s panel discussion. The audience was particularly interested in discussion about the scope of RSEs in the US, as well as how we were growing and who we included.

Upcoming meetings

SC19 - Nov. 17-22, 2019

If you’re planning to attend SC19, there will be two panels and a BOF involving RSE leaders from the US and UK, and many other sessions of interest to RSEs. We’re also working on arranging an informal US-RSE meeting (or more than one?) during the conference - details TBA. For more information see the US-RSE blog. We hope you can join us!

Community Call

The next US-RSE community call is set for Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 2pm ET. Looking forward to talking with you all!

Follow the US-RSE calendar of events to stay up to date.

Code of Conduct

We now have an official US-RSE code of conduct. Thanks to everyone who contributed. If you haven’t seen the final version, please take a few minutes to review it.

Recent Job Postings

These opportunities were recently posted to the RSE Careers page:

  • Scientific Research Software Developer: Caltech/JPL/Dartmouth
  • Research Software Engineer - FTC: Warwick/UK
  • Research Software Engineer/Senior Research Software Engineer: Brown University

RSE Stories

The Research Software Engineer Stories is a new interview-style podcast designed to spotlight the diverse and interesting people within the RSE community. Created and hosted by Vanessa Sochat, this series of short and fun podcasts celebrates the uniqueness of the RSE role by highlighting individuals and their stories. This is one of the ways we are working to provide some clarity to the questions “what is an RSE?” and “who belongs in the US-RSE?” The first episode featured Ian Cosden from Princeton University, the second episode featured Chris Dembia from Stanford University, and additional episodes are in production. If you are interested in participating as a guest, reach out to Vanessa (@v) on the [US-RSE Slack] Workspace(

Interesting Reads

What you may have missed on the blog and Slack

On the theme of “What is a Research Software Engineer”, Ian Cosden (star of the inaugural episode of the RSE-Stories podcast) has written a thoughtful piece about what it means to work as an RSE at Princeton University. And if you think that RSE’s are all working in the sciences, think again. Rebecca Koeser wrote a compelling piece, Still speaking in Code, about how she became an RSE in the Digital Humanities.

Jordan Perr-Sauer has started a discussion on Slack around the technical resources US-RSE should maintain, things like surveys and reports, recommended publication venues, standards, templates, and best practices for RSEs. Vanessa Saurus created a nice tool to scoring and displaying how well a repository meets some reproducibility goals and best practices called The Software Checklist.

Get Involved

There are lots of ways to get involved with the US-RSE. Of course, join us on Slack or volunteer for an interview with the RSE Stories podcast. But we’re also looking for help in many other places. See the most updated version of list of projects and let us know how you’d like to help. Help with things like the Website Committee, Social Media, and Community Engagement are all needed.