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Recruiting a senior RSE specialising in health data analysis

By Jonathan Cooper, on 6 January 2020

The UCL Research Software Development Group, founded in 2012, was the first of its kind and is one of the leading university-based research programming groups in the world. We are a friendly and diverse team who work across the university developing high-quality software, collaborating with scientists, engineers and scholars from all research domains. Healthcare research is a growing application area for us, and this new post focuses on such activity, working closely with other groups in Research IT Services (RITS) and collaborators in the Health Data Research (HDR) UK initiative.

We are seeking someone to lead UCL’s work enabling analysis of the massive sensitive datasets that are increasingly core to health data research. Your work will focus on helping researchers to make the most effective use of the resources available at UCL and elsewhere; for instance helping them prepare their data for analysis, developing new software, or scaling their existing software. This may involve any aspects of data science and AI, including statistics, visualization, and machine learning. You will also be responsible for designing the next generation of our services for health data research, liaising with colleagues across UCL, our partners and HDR UK to ensure our systems and tools are fit for purpose.

Since this is a new service area, you will be expected to provide significant input to the scope and responsibilities for the role once in post. Longer term, we intend this single post to nucleate a sub-team fulfilling the role, funded both by future research grants and institutional commitments, which you could progress to lead.

As part of the RITS team you will mentor other team members and continually improve the team’s ways of working. You will contribute to the development and design of teaching and training courses in data science for health and related subjects and you may also manage external funding opportunities from initial idea through to successful funding.

If the following describes you then you should consider working with us:

  • You have created and maintained software addressing research problems in one or more fields.
  • You can rapidly assimilate understanding of new scientific questions, and quickly connect research needs to software requirements.
  • You are committed to software development best practices, and know how to adapt these to research contexts.
  • You are experienced in programming languages and platforms used for data-intensive research, and are keen to expand your knowledge.

We welcome a wide range of backgrounds and technical skill sets within the group. For this role strengths in data science and high-throughput computing are particularly valuable.

For more details and to apply check out the full advert. The closing date is 2nd February 2020, with interview date TBC. This position is permanent (on an open-ended contract), with salary range of £44,674 – £52,701.

Career opportunities for RSE-like roles outside RSE groups

By Jonathan Cooper, on 23 August 2019

In the weeks running up to the RSE Conference, myself and some colleagues will be providing our thoughts on the questions people have submitted for our panel discussion with senior university management about how RSEs are being supported within academia. (You can submit more questions and vote on the current questions on Sli.do.)

Question: If you have a central university RSE group do other staff working in RSE-like roles in academic departments have the same career opportunities as that group?

As research software groups grow, seemingly inevitably they start to acquire more structure and hierarchy, with more senior roles being created to help manage the group. This provides for career advancement opportunities within the group, although often this is with the caveat that an increase in grade requires more managerial responsibility and reduced time for technical work. The situation is more bleak for those employed directly in research groups, typically on a fixed-term postdoc style contract where typical academic advancement routes – dependent on a publication record – do not easily apply. How can universities ensure the same opportunities are available to all staff?

Several groups have tried to address this challenge by making their job descriptions and selection criteria available to the whole university, for instance at Sheffield and King’s Digital Lab. This promotes consistency of approach, and gives the potential to aim at senior roles with appropriate selection criteria. Sustaining posts beyond a single funding source still presents a bottleneck to supporting careers, however. Central RSE groups with a large project portfolio and successful track record can often offer permanent contracts to staff, whereas this is rarely an option for individual research groups. At UCL we are investigating the potential of establishing ‘satellite’ groups within academic departments. These would be able to offer equivalent terms and conditions to their staff, and collaborate closely with the central team. We are not there yet however!

It is also worth considering a broader perspective. For staff trapped in a succession of fixed term contracts, ‘career opportunities’ is often synonymous with getting a permanent post, ideally at senior postdoc or even up to professorial pay grade. There are however many directions of travel that could be considered. How do we allow university staff, wherever they may be based, to move flexibly between teaching, research and professional services roles (or a combination thereof!), into industry and back into academia, always learning new skills along the way? How can progression be linked to expertise in different technical areas, not just management responsibility?

This question is ultimately not limited to RSE roles, but affects the wider network of roles within academia. UCL’s career pathways initiative (aimed at professional services) and academic career framework provide hopeful first steps in supporting more flexible careers, but there is still plenty of work to be done!

Hear an expert perspective on this and a variety of other questions from a panel of senior institutional representatives covering roles in research, HR and research software at the Science and Engineering South panel on “Institutional Support for RSEs” at RSEConUK19 on the 18th September at 13:30. You can also read previous blog posts in this series by Simon Hettrick and Jeremy Cohen.

Recruiting a new Medical Imaging team in UCL RSDG

By Jonathan Cooper, on 31 July 2019

The UCL Research Software Development Group, founded in 2012, was the first of its kind, and is one of the leading university-based research programming groups in the UK. We are a friendly and diverse team, soon to have 20 members, and we work across college developing high-quality software, collaborating with scientists, engineers and scholars from all research domains.

We are now recruiting a second post in an exciting new collaboration, offering the opportunity for a research software engineer with skills in large-scale data management and analysis to underpin the activities of internationally leading research groups across the institution, including the Centre for Medical Imaging Computing (CMIC), the Institute of Neurology (ION) including the Dementia Research Centre, the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, and the UCL Hospital (UCLH) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Clinical Research Informatics Unit (CRIU). They will take a leading role in implementing, maintaining and supporting usage of medical research data sets, particularly imaging data, and have an active role in the deployment of cutting-edge image analysis techniques and image sharing services to large scale studies.

If the following describes you, then you should consider working with us:

  • You have created and maintained software addressing research problems in one or more fields.
  • You can rapidly assimilate understanding of new scientific questions, and quickly connect research needs to software requirements.
  • You are committed to software development best practices, and know how to adapt these to research contexts.
  • You are experienced in one or more languages and platforms used for scientific computing, and are keen to expand your knowledge.

For more details check out the advert. The closing date is 11th November 2019, with interviews on 21st November. This position is permanent (on an open-ended contract), with salary negotiable up to £47,193.

Recruiting a Senior Research Software Developer at UCL

By Jonathan Cooper, on 23 July 2019

The UCL Research Software Development Group, founded in 2012, was the first of its kind, and is one of the leading university-based research programming groups in the UK. We are a friendly and diverse team, soon to have 18 members, and we are looking to add another senior RSD to help lead the group! As well as providing technical leadership for projects, you will be expected to share in line and project management responsibilities.

We work across college developing high-quality software, collaborating with scientists, engineers and scholars from all research domains.

Whether this means using Python to build up a database of ancient Sumerian writings, parallelising Fortran codes for surface catalysis simulations, creating an online system to develop and evaluate models of heart cells, analysing healthcare data in R, or designing and building a big data image processing library in C++11 and Python, we do it all, bringing specialist programming expertise, modern development practices (CI, TDD, Agile…), and engineering rigour to academic software. We provide software engineering consulting services to world-leading research teams, and collaborate with scientists and scholars to build software to meet new research challenges.

If the following describes you, then you should consider working with us:

  • You have created and maintained software addressing research problems in one or more fields.
  • You can rapidly assimilate understanding of new scientific questions, and quickly connect research needs to software requirements.
  • You are committed to software development best practices, and know how to adapt these to research contexts.
  • You are experienced in two or more languages and platforms used for scientific computing, and are keen to expand your knowledge.

We welcome a wide range of backgrounds and technical skill sets, given the variety of areas in which we work and the regular turnover of new projects. We have a particular gap in senior oversight of arts and humanities projects, but other interests are also very welcome.

For more details check out the full advert. The closing date is 2nd September 2019, and interviews will be held on 13th September. This position is permanent (on an open-ended contract), with salary range of £43,884 – £51,769.

UCL’s Research Software Development Group is looking for a new member

By Jonathan Cooper, on 5 April 2019

The UCL Research Software Development Group, founded in 2012, was the first of its kind, and is one of the leading university-based research programming groups in the UK. We are a friendly and diverse team, soon to have 15 members, and we are looking for more people to join us!

We work across college developing high-quality software, collaborating with scientists, engineers and scholars from all research domains.

Whether this means using Python to build up a database of ancient Sumerian writings, parallelising Fortran codes for surface catalysis simulations, creating an online system to develop and evaluate models of heart cells, analysing healthcare data in R, or designing and building a big data image processing library in C++11 and Python, we do it all, bringing specialist programming expertise, modern development practices (CI, TDD, Agile…), and engineering rigour to academic software. We provide software engineering consulting services to world-leading research teams, and collaborate with scientists and scholars to build software to meet new research challenges.

If the following describes you, then you should consider working with us:

  • You have created and maintained software addressing research problems in one or more fields.
  • You can rapidly assimilate understanding of new scientific questions, and quickly connect research needs to software requirements.
  • You are committed to software development best practices, and know how to adapt these to research contexts.
  • You are experienced in one or more languages and platforms used for scientific computing, and are keen to expand your knowledge.

We welcome a wide range of backgrounds and technical skill sets, given the variety of areas in which we work and the regular turnover of new projects. At present we’re particularly on the lookout for people with experience in R programming, but all candidates meeting the essential criteria are encouraged to apply.

For more details check out the full advert. The closing date is 2nd May 2019. This position is permanent (on an open-ended contract), with salary negotiable up to £46,359. We would also welcome applications from candidates interested in a part-time position.

UCL’s Research Software Development Group is growing again

By Jonathan Cooper, on 14 January 2019

The UCL Research Software Development Group, founded in 2012, was the first of its kind, and is one of the leading university-based research programming groups in the UK. We are a friendly and diverse team, now with 13 members, and we are looking for more people to join us!

We work across college developing high-quality software, collaborating with scientists, engineers and scholars from all research domains.

Whether this means using Python to build up a database of ancient Sumerian writings, parallelising Fortran codes for surface catalysis simulations, creating an online system to develop and evaluate models of heart cells, analysing healthcare data in R, or designing and building a big data image processing library in C++11 and Python, we do it all, bringing specialist programming expertise, modern development practices (CI, TDD, Agile…), and engineering rigour to academic software. We provide software engineering consulting services to world-leading research teams, and collaborate with scientists and scholars to build software to meet new research challenges.

If the following describes you, then you should consider working with us:

  • You have created and maintained software addressing research problems in one or more fields.
  • You can rapidly assimilate understanding of new scientific questions, and quickly connect research needs to software requirements.
  • You are committed to software development best practices, and know how to adapt these to research contexts.
  • You are experienced in one or more languages and platforms used for scientific computing, and are keen to expand your knowledge.

We welcome a wide range of backgrounds and technical skill sets, given the variety of areas in which we work and the regular turnover of new projects. At present we’re particularly on the lookout for people with experience in R programming, health informatics, and/or web development (e.g. Angular, Django), but all candidates meeting the essential criteria are encouraged to apply.

For more details check out the full advert. The closing date is 11th February 2019, with interviews planned for 21st February. This position is permanent (on an open-ended contract), with salary negotiable up to £46,359. We would also welcome applications from candidates interested in a part-time position.

RSDG at RSE18

By Jonathan Cooper, on 28 September 2018

Back in early September was the third edition of a series of conferences dedicated to Research Software Engineering.

It’s like the national meetings that exist for numerous disciplines, but to talk about us: our community and career paths, ways to serve the research community better, tools and techniques for better software, among others. As expected, almost the whole Research Software Development Group (and Ian Kirker from Research Computing!) attended the conference.

This year’s conference was really important for us: the conference started with a keynote by our very own Prof. Eleanor Robson of UCL Archeology, who talked about Oracc, the longest project our group has been involved in since its creation, including a couple of demos of the tools we have created for writing translations of cuneiform texts. We had Ilektra Christidi in the organizing committee, who also co-organized and co-chaired the international session, a lively event where RSE’s from around the world exchanged views and experiences from the communities of their countries, and discussed about cross-country initiatives and collaborations. Tom Dowrick – our affiliated team member – gave a talk about using the Robot Operating System to create a reproducible platform for surgical device development.

As usual, there were interesting workshops and talks from researchers, RSEs and representatives of big industry players alike. We especially enjoyed the workshops about singularity; JupyterHub + kubernetes; lean tools for product development; and parallelizing python applications. Talk highlights covered building computer vision systems by Microsoft Research; why making scientific software sustainable is difficult; GUI’s and visualization; lessons from CASTEP on rebuilding legacy software; and an entertaining and enlightening presentation from Catherine Jones (STFC) on how to shut down services gracefully – something we’ll be putting into practice as we deprecate our local Jenkins service in favour of the national service STFC are now piloting.

There was also exciting news for the future of RSE in the UK, with the announcement of a new registered society due to be launched soon. And we are excited to have struck up an agreement with the Software Sustainability Institute to collaborate with them on analysing their international survey results – more news on that in the coming months!

Our group head Jonathan Cooper attended several sessions looking at different aspects of managing RSE groups, as well as having many stimulating discussions with other RSE group leaders. There was a helpful workshop on inclusivity and diversity in RSE recruitment, discussing everything from wording of adverts to structure of interviews – and indeed how we maintain a welcoming culture within our team. UCL is doing well in so far as we have 6 nationalities within the team, 40% of our senior team female, and have put together majority-female interview panels, but there is no room for complacency. We’ll be looking at what outreach we can do to demonstrate what a great career path RSE is for all people. A panel session with RSE group leaders highlighted that all RSE groups across the UK face much higher demand for their services than they can match with current staffing levels, and so training the next generation of RSEs will be crucial.

A funders’ perspective from Susan Morrell (EPSRC) and David Carr (Wellcome Trust) underlined again the increasingly heavy dependence of UK research on software development, and hence the need for RSEs. Wellcome’s emphasis on open research was particularly encouraging. Also of interest here was an ARCHER study showing a 3:1 return on investment for their eCSE programme, which provides RSE support to researchers using national HPC resources. In another session we thought about ways in which RSE groups can benefit the wider community: not just delivering projects which benefit the researchers involved directly, and ensuring these tools are usable by others, but contributing to underpinning open source projects on which many researchers depend.

All in all, enough technical and social activity – a good warm up as term begins and we resume our regular activities, like drop-ins, Tech Socials, and coffee mornings!

The UCL Research Software Development group is hiring

By ccearal, on 14 September 2018

The UCL Research Software Development Group, founded in 2012, was the first of its kind, and is one of the leading university-based research programming groups in the UK. We are currently a team of 11 RSEs and we are looking for more people to join us!

We work across college developing high-quality software in collaboration with scientists, engineers and scholars from all research domains.

Whether this means using Python to build up a database of ancient Sumerian writings, parallelising Fortran codes for surface catalysis simulations, adding red blood cells to a supercomputing simulation of brain blood-flow, refactoring DNA forensics code in R, or designing and building a big data image processing library in C++11 and Python, we do it all, bringing specialist programming expertise, modern development practices (CI, TDD, Agile…), and engineering rigour to academic software. We provide expert software engineering consulting services to world-leading research teams, and collaborate with scientists and scholars to build software to meet new research challenges.

If the following describes you, then you should consider working with us:

  • You have created and maintained software to address research problems in one or more fields.
  • You can rapidly assimilate understanding of new scientific questions, and quickly connect research needs to software requirements.
  • You are committed to software development best practices, and know how to adapt these to research contexts.
  • You are expert in one or more languages and platforms used for scientific computing, and are keen to expand your knowledge.

Please note that, on this occasion, we are also interested in interviewing candidates with experience of front-end web development, with or without a research background. If you are looking into applying your skills into education and research, we’d love to hear from you.

For more details check out this advert. Applications must be received by 14th October 2018. This position is permanent but subject to the availability of continued funding sourced from appropriate research collaborations, and is funded for two years in the first instance, with salary negotiable up to £46,359. We would also welcome applications from candidates interested in a part-time position.

UCL is recruiting 2 Research Software Developers

By Jonathan Cooper, on 21 December 2017

The UCL Research Software Development Group, founded in 2012, was the first of its kind, and is one of the leading university-based research programming groups in the UK.

We work across college developing high-quality software in collaboration with scientists, engineers and scholars from all research domains.

Whether this means using Python to build up a database of ancient Sumerian writings, parallelising Fortran codes for surface catalysis simulations, adding red blood cells to a supercomputing simulation of brain blood-flow, refactoring DNA forensics code in R, or designing and building a big data image processing library in C++11 and Python, we do it all, bringing specialist programming expertise, modern development practices (CI, TDD, Agile…), and engineering rigour to academic software. We provide expert software engineering consulting services to world-leading research teams, and collaborate with scientists and scholars to build software to meet new research challenges.

If the following describes you, then you should consider working with us:

  • You have created and maintained software to address research problems in one or more fields.
  • You can rapidly assimilate understanding of new scientific questions, and quickly connect research needs to software requirements.
  • You are committed to software development best practices, and know how to adapt these to research contexts.
  • You are expert in one or more languages and platforms used for scientific computing, and are keen to expand your knowledge.

For more details check out this advert. Applications must be received by 8th February 2018. This position is permanent but subject to the availability of continued funding sourced from appropriate research collaborations, and is funded for two years in the first instance.

While we always welcome any excellent candidate matching the job description, we are on this occasion particularly seeking individuals with experience in databases, interfacing with hospital IT systems (HL7, ICIP, EPIC), or developing web interfaces.

UCL is recruiting another Research Software Developer

By Jonathan Cooper, on 30 May 2017

The UCL Research Software Development Group, founded in 2012, was the first of its kind, and is one of the leading university-based research programming groups in the UK.

We work across college developing high-quality software in collaboration with scientists, engineers and scholars from all research domains.

Whether this means using Python to build up a database of ancient Sumerian writings, parallelising Fortran codes for surface catalysis simulations, adding red blood cells to a supercomputing simulation of brain blood-flow, refactoring DNA forensics code in R, or designing and building a big data image processing library in C++11 and Python, we do it all, bringing specialist programming expertise, modern development practices (CI, TDD, Agile…), and engineering rigour to academic software. We provide expert software engineering consulting services to world-leading research teams, and collaborate with scientists and scholars to build software to meet new research challenges.

If the following describes you, then you should consider working with us:

  • You have created and maintained software to address research problems in one or more fields.
  • You can rapidly assimilate understanding of new scientific questions, and quickly connect research needs to software requirements.
  • You are committed to software development best practices, and know how to adapt these to research contexts.
  • You are expert in one or more languages and platforms used for scientific computing, and are keen to expand your knowledge.

For more details check out this advert. This position is permanent but subject to the availability of continued funding sourced from appropriate research collaborations, and is funded for two years in the first instance.