January BEAR newsletter

Published: Posted on

Welcome to the BEAR Newsletter, bringing you the latest news from the BEAR team (Birmingham Environment for Academic Research), as well as other relevant computing and data-related news from both within the University of Birmingham and outside.

Happy New Year! We are kicking off 2024 by welcoming two new starters to Advanced Research Computing; 1) Vlad Mogilev, who will be assisting the BEAR Applications team in the role of Research Applications Specialist, and 2) Yajie Zhang, who joins the Research Engagement and Data Group as a Training Coordinator. At the start of a new year, we also look back at 2023, and below you can find links to both our Research Software Group Annual Report, as well as a compilation of case studies using BEAR services. 

Included in this month’s BEAR newsletter:

  • Meet the Data Scientists & find out about the new Research Data Science service
  • Research Software Group Annual Report
  • BEAR downtime in March for mandatory testing
  • BEAR Challenge 2024
  • BEAR Conference – abstract deadline extended
  • Next R User Group meeting – data visualisation
  • BEAR Champion team update
  • Digital Research Conversation – sustainable computing
  • BEAR case study collection
  • Virtual BEAR drop-in sessions

Meet the Data Scientists & find out about the new Research Data Science service

The Data Scientist team – Cai, Kamilla and Jeremy.

We are excited to invite you to the upcoming ‘Meet the Data Scientists’ drop-in session today (Monday 15th January) at 13:00 – 14:00 in Elm House (G05, ground floor common room). This is a great opportunity to chat to our team to find out more about the new Research Data Science service and what it can do for you. Coffee, tea and cake will be provided! If you can’t make this time, or would like to have an in-depth discussion about a potential project, you can also contact us via the IT Service Desk and we will arrange a meeting.

Research Software Group Annual Report

The Research Software Group Annual Report for 2023 is hot off the press! As well as describing the wide range of support available from the Research Software Group from Research Software Engineers, Research Application Specialists and Research Data Scientists, the report features a range of case studies showcasing how the group has enabled research at the university and partner institutions.

BEAR downtime in March for mandatory testing

We would like to give BEAR users advance notice that there will be an outage of all BEAR services during the two days of March 12th to 13th. The downtime is required to conduct mandatory electrical safety testing, required once every 5 years, and there will be some disaster recovery testing of supporting services. The team is still assessing the length of the downtime required, further details will be sent to the BEAR service mailing lists.

BEAR Challenge 2024

We are pleased to announce that booking is now open for the BEAR Challenge 2024! The challenge will be held over three days from Monday 24th to Wednesday 26th June and is open to teams of undergraduate or taught postgraduate students. Students will get access to our Tier 2 national supercomputer, Baskerville, with its state-of-the-art GPUs to run a series of challenges to give them experience in using High Performance Computing plus hear career talks from industry-leading experts. 

Please pass this on to any relevant taught students in your area (a working knowledge of a programming language is required). Further details and a booking link can be found via our Eventbrite page.

BEAR Conference – abstract deadline extended

The deadline for abstracts to present at the BEAR Conference 2024 has been extended to Friday 2nd February. The conference will be held on Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th April and provides an exciting opportunity for PGRs and staff to present their HPC-related research to other researchers working with HPC. Submissions to present can either be an A1 portrait poster or a presentation (10 or 20 mins) – see details on the BEAR Conference website.

Next R User Group meeting – data visualisation

The next R User Group meeting will be on ‘Data Visualisation’ on Tuesday 30th January, 1-2pm in room G05, Elm House. Join us to find out about the powerful data visualisation package “ggplot2” and tips and tricks for making your plots accessible to all. To join the R User Group mailing list, send an email to Majordomo@lists.bham.ac.uk with the following command in the body of your email message (in plain text format): subscribe uobrug

BEAR Champion team update

Find out more about our BEAR Champions, how the group has expanded in the last year and how you could join the voluntary team in our BEAR Champion team news blog post.

Digital Research Conversation – sustainable computing

In our 9th Digital Research Conversation, held on the 13th December, researchers and Advanced Research Computing staff gave us an insight into how and why sustainable research computing should be on everybody’s agenda. Kirsty McCready, our Research Engagement and Data Group Intern, led the event and provides a summary, together with some of the speaker slides in our Digital Research Conversations – Sustainable Computing blog post.

BEAR case study collection

The importance of a case study can’t be underestimated, it shows the breadth of the services that BEAR offers and the many ways it is being used by our fantastic researchers. Our case study booklet volume 3 is a compilation of 23 case studies covering research from all five colleges. If you would like to contribute to future case studies, then please do get in touch via email.

Virtual BEAR drop-in sessions

We are just holding virtual drop-in sessions in January but are scheduling in-person drop-in’s from February onwards. Further details, including how to join the virtual sessions are available on our drop-in webpage. Upcoming dates are also listed below: 

  • Via Zoom – Thursday 18th January, 09:30 – 10:30 
  • Via Zoom – Friday 26th January, 10:00 – 11:00
  • Via Zoom – Wednesday 31st January, 12:00 – 13:00
  • Main Library foyer – Wednesday 14th February, 12:30 – 13:30

Missed last month’s newsletter?

Find December’s newsletter here. Sign up to receive the newsletter direct to your inbox by joining our bear-updates mailing list here (UoB login required), or ask to join via email at bearinfo@contacts.bham.ac.uk