US-RSE December 2023 Newsletter

December 2023

Published: Dec 20, 2023

In this monthly newsletter, we share recent, current, and planned activities of the US-RSE Association, and related news that we think is of interest to US-RSE members. Newsletters are also available on our website alongside the growing resources and information on the US-RSE Association. To receive our newsletter, join US-RSE.

In this issue:

Message from Our Executive Director Sandra Gesing and Our Community Manager Sophia Anyatonwu

We are honored and thrilled to be appointed the inaugural Executive Director and inaugural Community Manager of US-RSE. The last five years have shown us how much we can achieve together as a community that has grown from around 20 members in 2018 to nearly 2000 in 2023. US-RSE is a vibrant community evident in the success of our first ever conference, active involvement on Slack, various working groups, organized workshops and participation in community calls – to name just a few.

Much of the Executive Director’s role will be focused on the sustainability of the organization and my (Sandra) vision is that we achieve financial sustainability with different tiers of funding and contributions. Volunteer work will stay a cornerstone of US-RSE. We both will contribute to this thriving community to address pain points and support activities that the community would like to accomplish. I (Sophia) will start with meeting with working groups, affinity groups and regional groups to identify pain points. We will have a wish list that can be filled by community members and prioritize the activities of our overall community.

We are looking forward to this journey with you all and we are grateful for any ideas and input! Please don’t hesitate to contact us. Happy holidays!

Sincerely,

Sandra Gesing & Sophia Anyatonwu

Two-year Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant

The generous grant by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will provide support in three important areas: the recruitment of dedicated staff, the development of activities and initiatives, and the enhancement of organizational tools and community well-being.

  • A large part of US-RSE’s success has been due to the dedication and hard work of volunteers. While we don’t want to see the community-driven nature change, we recognize that relying on pure volunteer effort is limiting. For this reason the two new staff positions of a full-time Community Manager and a part-time Executive Director were created. We are excited that Sophia Anyatonwu started on December 11, 2023 as our Community Manager and Sandra Gesing started on November 1, 2023 as our Executive Director (see their message above).
  • Three main activities and initiatives will be funded through the grant: The US-RSE Annual Conference, a Community Funds Program, and an Awards Program.
  • Developing and maintaining a vibrant and functional community network requires infrastructure. To alleviate the struggles of the current process, we’ll invest in infrastructure for managing contact information for those in the network, facilitating networking opportunities between members, allowing people to choose their level of involvement in network activities, and communicating with members.

Community and Travel Funds Program

Part of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant for US-RSE has been delegated for the Community and Travel Funds program. Members of US-RSE can apply for funds for community or individual purposes for event costs, get-togethers, travel funding, and more. The next deadline is December 31, 2023! See the webpage for more details.

US-RSE Conference 2023 Recap (US-RSE’23)

Our first ever US-RSE conference in October was a great success and was sold out with 250 attendees. We received 94 submissions of which we accepted 73 (4 tutorials, 3 workshops, 6 Birds of a Feather, 19 short/long papers, 25 talks, 15 posters, 2 notebooks). The program featured additionally 2 keynotes, a funding agency panel, a student program, sponsor talks, a poster reception, conference dinner and a social hour. This all would not have been possible without the support and work of so many people: the organizing committee, the reviewers, the sponsors, the authors and last but not least the attendees! Many thanks for a vibrant conference full of positive energy!

US-RSE Conference 2024 (US-RSE’24)

US-RSE’24 Conference Update: Dates and Venue Announcement

We have some exciting news to share. The official dates and venue for US-RSE’24 have been announced! Our next conference will be Tuesday, October 15 through Thursday, October 17th, at the Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, NM. View the website for more details and to stay up to date on recent events!

Steering Committee Elections

The steering committee elections took place in December. Julia Damerow, Rinku Gupta, Kenton McHenry and Miranda Mundt will continue to serve for another year. The other five seats were open for selection. The following candidates have been successfully elected:

  • Abbey Roelofs
  • Alex Koufos
  • Ian Cosden
  • Jeff Carver
  • Keith Beattie

Thanks to the other excellent candidates David Beck, Mahmood Shad, and Torin White for making the election a success. All of them have helped to grow US-RSE and make it successful.

In addition, we want to express our gratitude to the three outgoing Steering Committee members, Nicole Brewer, Christina Maimone, and Sandra Gesing. Their decades of experience have been instrumental in advancing US-RSE, fostering connections within the broader research software community, and positioning US-RSE for a promising future.

Community News

Conference Summaries

U-M developers attend first-ever US-RSE conference

A contingent from U-M took part in the first-ever US-RSE (United States Research Software Engineer Association) annual conference. It was held at the University of Illinois Chicago, October 16–18, 2023.

Abbey Roelofs and Michael Egan (College of Literature, Science, and the Arts), Srikanth Lavu (Marsal Family School of Education), and Andy Boughton (School of Public Health) attended the conference in person, and Mark Ciechanowski (Michigan Medicine), joined remotely for live-streamed sessions… (Click the link above to read more)

A Tale of Two Conferences: Reflections from the US-RSE and ADSA Conferences

…One question that kept coming up in my mind throughout the US-RSE conference was, “How do groups do code review?” I have long been obsessed with the idea that more research software/code should be reviewed before it is put into production or published. In theory, this sounds simple, but in practice it is much harder. Many research software engineers and data scientists are the sole developer on a project. And even if they work as part of a group, it is difficult to share enough context for them to effectively evaluate each other’s code. Ideally, you would have two or more developers working on a single project, but in the academic setting this is often financially infeasible.

Luckily, the second day of the conference had a “Birds of a Feather” session to discuss code review. It seemed like a lot of the folks who attended had run into similar issues. The panelists presented several models for how they were managing code review in their communities. One was a community of practice in the digital humanities where individuals and teams can submit their work for review. This shared domain of expertise allows researchers to more easily review each other’s work, somewhat like journal submissions… (Click the link above to read more)

DHTech Participation at US-RSE Conference

Several DHTech members attended the inaugural US-RSE conference, an event by the US Research Software Engineer Association themed “Software-Enabled Discovery and Beyond.” While the majority of attendees hailed from STEM fields rather than the humanities or social sciences, common challenges, such as building sustainable and maintainable software, were universally recognized. The difficulty of building sustainable, maintainable, reproducible, and extensible software was a common refrain at the conference.

Jeffrey Carver, a DHTech member, conducted a half-day workshop on Software Engineering for Research Software Engineering (SE4RSE’23) alongside Neil Chue Hong and Miranda Mundt. Carver’s presentation on “Peer Code Review in Research Software: Enhancing Quality and Collaboration” explored the processes, challenges, and improvements required when RSEs conduct code reviews. His survey of code review practices revealed that code reviews regularly identify issues which are difficult to test or statically analyze; that many engineers have positive experiences with code review and that it improves team cohesion; and that most downsides of code review stem from social or incentive problems (too much time, misunderstanding criticism, difficult to find reviewers)… (Click the link above to read more)

Conference Report: US RSE Conference 2023 in Chicago

This episode takes us to Chicago, the host for the first ever conference of Research Software Engineering (RSE) in the US . The conference was organised by the US RSE association and was sold out. In this report I’ll talk to a number of participants, presenters and organisers.

In order of appearance:

  • Mary Anne Leung Founder and President of the Sustainable Horizon’s Institute https://shinstitute.org
  • Joseph Tuccillo from Oak Ridge National Laboratory https://www.ornl.gov
  • Geoffrey Lentner from Purdue University https://www.purdue.edu
  • Leah Wasser founder and director of pyOpenSci https://www.pyopensci.org
  • Daniel S. Katz US RSE association co-founder and board member https://danielskatz.org
  • Ian Cosden US RSE association co-founder and board member https://researchcomputing.princeton.edu/about/people-directory/ian-cosden
  • Sandra Gesing US RSE association executive director http://sandra-gesing.com
  • Julia Damerow, US RSE association steering committee member (Click the link at the top to read more) #

    US-RSE Funders Talk Series: Adrian Price-Whelan - Simons Foundation (Past)

    US-RSE is happy to be continuing its series of conversations with funders for 1) RSEs to learn about funding opportunities and review and other processes, 2) RSEs to ask questions of the funder, and 3) funders to ask questions and learn about RSEs.

Visit the Funder Talk Series page for more information and links to past presentations.

The December talk featured Adrian Price-Whelan, Assistant Director of Scientific Software at the Simons Foundation. In addition to his work as a funder, Adrian actively contributes to the scientific open-source software ecosystem and has been a leader in the Astropy Project, a large community software project that supports astronomical research in Python. #

RSE Group Leaders’ Network (RSE-GLN)

Do you lead an RSE group? Do you want to talk to others about the challenges of leading and managing projects, people, and resources? Join the RSE-GLN! #

DEI Working Group

DEI Celebration Events

The DEI WG is planning more celebration events for 2024. Next up is Black History Month in Feb. We’d love your input and assistance.

DEI Media Club - CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap

Join us for our next DEI Media Club discussion (Thursday, January 11th, at 12pm ET/11am CST/10am MT/9am PT) about CODE documentary exposes the dearth of American female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap. CODE raises the question: what would society gain from having more women and minorities code?

US-RSE Demographics Survey

The DEI WG is helping contribute towards DEI oriented metrics in the US-RSE member survey. Join us at #demographics-survey.

Find out more about the DEI working group in #wg-diversity-equity-inclusion channel. #

User Experience Working Group

The User Experience Working Group (UXWG) is a newly formed working group. Co-chairs Drew Paine and Hannah Cohoon invite UX researchers and practitioners to join the working group in its effort to increase awareness of UX methods and promote its application in research software engineering. The UXWG offers an inclusive community of practice where members can share knowledge, experiences, and challenges. Together, UXWG members will advocate for and demystify UX to the larger RSE community, scientists across domains, and funding agency staff who support products and services. The working group plans to develop webinars, case studies, and white papers and invites new members to suggest other means for promoting UX methods in the research software community. To get involved, visit the #wg-ux channel on the US-RSE slack or contact the co-chairs at wg-ux@us-rse.org. #

Community Calls

January Community Call

Call for Presenters: Present Your Favorite Tools or Project!

We are looking for people who would like to present their favorite tool or project at our next Community Call on Thursday, January 11th, at 12pm ET/9am PT/11am CST. Presentations would be 10-15 minutes long and you can present your own project or a tool you regularly use and think everybody should know about! If you are interested in presenting, please get in touch with Julia Damerow and Abbey Roelofs in the #communitycalls channel or by messaging them directly.

December Community Call (Past)

The December Community Call was on the topic of Fuzzy Requirements

Have you been in the situation that a researcher you work with is unclear about the requirements for the software you are developing? How do you handle situations in which the requirements are conflicting, the goal of the project is unclear, or the focus is shifting frequently? This was an opportunity to share tools or techniques as well as brainstorm solutions with others who may have dealt with similar situations.

November Community Call (Past)

The November Community Call was a discussion with our new Executive Director, Sandra Gesing about Envisioning the Next Stage for US-RSE and Synergies with the Center of Excellence for Science Gateways (SGX3)

US-RSE has had a lot of momentum and positive energy from the beginning in 2017. It gained even more in the last couple of months evident in the rising numbers of members growing to over 2000 and the sold out inaugural conference in Chicago. The grant of the Sloan foundation allows for the first time that staff members can complement the volunteer effort: Sandra Gesing as the Executive Director at 50% and a soon-to-be-announced full-time community manager. These roles will take US-RSE to the next level beyond volunteer work. The other 50% of Sandra’s effort go to science gateways aka virtual research environments aka virtual labs, which are research software solutions that allow researchers to focus on their research and not on nitty-gritty details of complex research infrastructures. The community of RSEs and science gateways have quite some overlap. A common goal of both communities is the creation of non-traditional career paths for RSEs and science gateway creators that are lacking in the academic and national lab world. The community call covered Sandra’s vision for the role of the executive director to achieve financial sustainability for US-RSE, collaboration via the Center of Excellence for Science Gateways (SGX3), and major tasks for the next couple of months.

Interesting Events and Opportunities

Community and Travel Funds program

Part of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant for US-RSE has been delegated for the Community and Travel Funds program. Members of US-RSE can apply for funds for community or individual purposes for event costs, get-togethers, travel funding, and more. The next deadline is December 31, 2023! See the webpage for more details. #

Survey to understand how members of the research software engineering community consider cybersecurity when writing software

As a member of the RSE community, we value your input. To participate, you will complete a survey that takes 20-30 minutes.

We will ensure your privacy during and after the survey process. The survey is anonymous. Your participation in this research study is voluntary. If you are interested, after completion of the survey you can enter a drawing for one of three $100 Gift Cards. The entry for the drawing is separate from the survey to ensure your answers remain anonymous. If you decide to participate in this study, you may quit the survey at any time and your partial responses will not be included in the study. However, only those who complete the study are eligible for the drawing.

If you are willing to participate in this study, please click here.

If you have any questions regarding the research study, please contact Matthew Armstrong (maarmstrong3@crimson.ua.edu) or Dr. Jeffrey Carver (carver@cs.ua.edu).

This research has been reviewed according to University of Alabama procedures for research involving human subjects. If you have any questions about your rights as a participant in this study or any concerns or complaints, please contact the University of Alabama Office of Research Compliance at 1-877-820-3066. #

Survey to better understand code revew practices of RSEs

Dr. Jeffrey Carver, Dr. Nasir Eisty, and Md Ariful Malik of the University of Alabama are conducting a study to understand the practices, impacts and barriers of code review techniques for RSEs.

As an RSE, we are soliciting your participation in our study. Taking part in this study involves completing a web survey that will take about 15 minutes. This survey contains questions about your previous experience with the code review process.

Your participation is completely anonymous and voluntary. You are free not to participate or stop participating any time before you submit your answers. You must be 18 years of age or older to participate in the study and the survey.

If you are willing to participate in this study, please click here.

If you have any questions regarding the survey, please contact Dr. Jeffrey Carver (carver@cs.ua.edu) or Dr. Nasir Eisty (nasireisty@boisestate.edu).

This research study has been approved by the University of Alabama Institutional Review Board.

Upcoming Events

NUWEST – NNSA-University Workshop on Exascale Simulation Technologies

For national lab folks in the Albuquerque area, we’ll be holding a 1-day event on Jan 18th to share ideas on technologies for facilitating exascale predictive science, by showcasing available technologies, identifying challenges, and initiating further collaborations. This is an opportunity for lab personnel and PSAAP researchers to (1) have hands-on experience with simulation tools being developed by the PSAAP centers, including: CUnumeric and Legion; Parsl; Ratel, libCEED, and PETSc; Parla and PyKokkos; Numba; MIRGE; MPA Advanced; OpenCilk and (2) engage in discussions about their strengths and weaknesses. The core of the day will be two 3-hour sessions, each with sequence of four 15-minute talks about a specific tool, then a 2-hour block for breakouts to work with any of the four tools.

A registration cost of $100 will cover our meeting space and catering. Register at https://go.illinois.edu/NUWEST. #

57th Hawaiian International Conference for System Sciences

The 57th Hawaiian International Conference for System Sciences (HICSS-57) will take place from January 2-6, 2024 in Honolulu, Hawaii. It features a software technology track and minitracks such as “Software Sustainability: Strategies for Long-Lasting and Usable Software” and “Smart (City) and Data Streaming Application Development: Challenges and Experiences”. Late registration is open here.

Interesting Reads, Videos, or Podcasts

Items you may have missed on the blog and Slack:

US-RSE Outreach

The Outreach Working Group is looking for volunteers to help with organizing workshops, birds of a feather (BoF), symposiums, etc. Roles span from organizer to reviewer to speaker and more.

If you are interested in getting involved in a US-RSE hosted event, please reach out to the working group via the #wg-outreach slack channel or wg-outreach@us-rse.org.

The Funders Talk Series hosted Adrian Price-Wheelan from the Simons Foundation in December. Slides and a video of the talk should be posted soon. The next funders talk will be from Ashley Sands from the Institute for Museum and Library Science (IMLS) January 29 at 3 pm ET, with details to be posted to US-RSE’s calendar. If you have suggestions for future talks, please contact Dan Katz.

US-RSE Financials

From a financial perspective, 2023 was an exciting year for US-RSE. We were awarded a two-year grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and switched fiscal sponsors. We are very grateful to the Open Collective Foundation (OCF) that was our fiscal sponsor until last spring. However, with the awarded grant our needs changed and we are now a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives (CI). CI gives us the structure and resources to hire staff such as the Executive Director Sandra Gesing and the Community Manager Sophia Anyatonwu, to accept donations and making it possible to reimburse members for expenses they incurred on behalf of US-RSE. The community funds possible via the Alfred P. Sloan grant are also awarded via CI.

The majority of the grant from the Sloan Foundation is budgeted to pay for our new Executive Director and Community Manager. Besides that we budgeted money to support staff travel, the US-RSE conference, to fund community activities through our new Travel and Community Fund program, and a couple of smaller items such code of conduct trainings for our code of conduct committee members. CI charges 10% of our income for providing resources, infrastructure, and support (trust us when we say we make good use of those resources). Switching from OCF to CI turned out to been an unexpectedly complex change and it has been a very steep learning curve. We appreciate our members’ patience as we navigate the world of non-profit regulations and guidelines.

Get Involved

There are lots of ways to get involved with the US-RSE community. Of course, you can join us on Slack. We’re also looking for ideas and help in many other places. See our list of projects and let us know how you’d like to help. Help with things like the Website Committee, Social Media, Community Engagement, Fundraising, and Newsletter are all needed and welcome.

New guidance was recently released on how to create new Affinity Groups and Working Groups. If you see an unmet need in the US-RSE community, we encourage you to create your own group!

As always we thank everyone who is already contributing for their help in shaping and growing the organization.

US-RSE Working Groups:

Recent Job Postings

These opportunities were recently posted to the RSE Opportunities page:

  1. Principal ML Research Scientist: Kempner Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA Posted: Dec 07, 2023
  2. ML Research Scientist: Kempner Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA Posted: Dec 07, 2023
  3. Computational Astrophysics Postdoctoral Researcher: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM Posted: Dec 06, 2023
  4. Full Stack Developer: Institute for Genomic Medicine, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio Posted: Dec 05, 2023
  5. Programmer II: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA Posted: Dec 05, 2023
  6. OSTP Software Developer: Kitware, Clifton Park, NY Posted: Nov 30, 2023
  7. Research Assistant I: Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI Posted: Nov 29, 2023
  8. POSE Research Software Engineer and Technical Lead (2 positions): Open Molecular Software Foundation, Remote in US Posted: Nov 29, 2023
  9. Computational Scientist, High Performance and Research Computing: University of Rhode Island Center for Computational Research, Kingston, RI Posted: Nov 21, 2023
  10. Associate Research Scientist / Research Scientist - Software: Flatiron Institute, Center for Computational Neuroscience, New York, NY Posted: Nov 17, 2023
  11. Performance Tuning Analyst: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ (in-person, not remote) Posted: Nov 14, 2023
  12. Research Software Engineer – Neutron Sciences: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN (Flexible/Hybrid) Posted: Oct 19, 2023
  13. Infrastructure Software Engineer: Flatiron Institute - Simons Foundation, New York, NY Posted: Oct 18, 2023
  14. Lead Neuroimaging Software Developer: Boys Town, Omaha, NE Posted: Sep 25, 2023
  15. Geospatial Software Engineer: Clark University - Center for Geospatial Analytics, Worcester, MA Posted: Sep 14, 2023
  16. Research Software Engineer II: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ Posted: Sep 07, 2023
  17. Researcher and Engineer Positions in Advanced Wireless, Open RAN, and Rural Broadband: Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa Posted: May 18, 2023
  1. Research Computing Facilitator: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Dartmouth, MA Posted: Dec 06, 2023
  2. MPI Software Engineer: X-ScaleSolutions, Columbus, Ohio (flexible/remote) Posted: Nov 08, 2022

Internships

  1. Summer 2024 SGX3 Internship: Texas Advanced Computing Center, Austin, Texas Posted: Dec 13, 2023
  2. Summer Research Intern: Center for Computational Neuroscience, Flatiron Institute, New York, NY Posted: Dec 07, 2023
  3. 2024 Summer Internships in Parallel Computational Science: National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO Posted: Nov 10, 2023

Other Job Boards

The following boards might also be of interest.

  1. Software Carpentries Job Opportunities
  2. Academic Data Science Alliance Jobs
  3. Society of Research Software Engineering Vacancies

Please read our job posting policy first, then fill out this Google form to request additions to the job board.

This newsletter is a joint effort of members of the US-RSE Association.

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