February 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.

Every two years we run a survey to establish the IT needs of researchers, and this enables us to deliver a service that meets their requirements. Our 2024 survey was launched on Monday and is open until Monday 18th March, so please take this opportunity to give us your views – see below for more details.

In other news, the team continues growing to meet demand and we have recently welcomed Leo Turnell-Ritson in our first ever Dev Ops Engineer role!

Included in this month’s BEAR newsletter:

  • Shape the future: Participate in the ‘IT Needs of Active Research’ survey
  • Linking your research activities together within Pure, acknowledging BEAR
  • RSE Midlands 2024 annual conference
  • ARCHER2 training – reproducible computational environments
  • BEAR training courses
  • Helpers needed for training courses
  • Meet the Data Scientists
  • MATLAB meetup
  • Sheffield Open Research Conversations
  • Case study on using the BEAR portal and BlueBEAR
  • BEAR drop-in sessions

Shape the future: Participate in the ‘IT Needs of Active Research’ survey

The 2024 ‘IT Needs of Active Research’ survey has just been launched and is being circulated via School Directors of Research to research staff and students. Sponsored by PVC Professor Rachel O’Reilly and run by Advanced Research Computing every two years, your responses will shape the future of compute provision at the University over the coming years. Examples of action we have taken in response to the 2022 survey are listed in the blog post here.

Please take this opportunity to feedback about the computing services that support research and any gaps in provision. The survey should take ~10-15 mins to complete and we will be planting a tree per every 10 surveys completed, as well as providing the opportunity to win a £500 Amazon voucher. The survey closes on Monday 18th March and can be accessed via the survey link here.

Linking your research activities together within Pure, acknowledging BEAR

Did you know that you can link your research activities where you have used BEAR within Pure? This increases the visibility and accessibility of your work. Please see the following webpages to help you do this: Linking Pure and BEAR.

RSE Midlands 2024 Annual Conference

The annual RSE Midlands conference is taking place at the University of Warwick on Thursday 7th March. This is an opportunity to build community, meet new and old friends, and learn more about the skills of RSEs in the Midlands. For more details and to book a FREE place at this event, visit the conference website.

ARCHER2 training – reproducible computational environments

On Tuesday 16th & Wednesday 17th April a team from ARCHER2, the UK National Supercomputing Service, will be delivering a FREE in-person course at the University on reproducible computational environments using containers. For more information and to book, please visit their website.

BEAR training courses

We still have spaces available on our upcoming courses, Advanced BlueBEAR (NEW!), Git, R and MATLAB over the next few weeks. For more information and to sign up, see our training website.

Helpers needed for training courses

We would like to encourage more researchers to get involved as helpers on our Software Carpentry courses, including Python, Git, MATLAB and R. You do not need to be trained in the software, but have an interest and some experience in using it – enough to show someone else how to do simple tasks from instructions provided. Courses usually run over two half days, but helpers often attend one half day. It is good experience, helps others and looks good on the CV! If you are interested, please contact bearinfo@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

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 on Monday 26th February 12:00 – 13:00 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 Portal and we will arrange a meeting.

MATLAB meetup

On Thursday 22nd February from 18:00 – 19:30, there is an event on the ‘Wider Applications of MATLAB’ with three speakers discussing their experiences in Psychology, Fracture Mechanics and Formula One. Taking place in Room G34 in building Y3 (Old School of Engineering), with free pizza! Sign-up here.

Sheffield Open Research Conversations

The University of Sheffield is holding a series of free, online lunchtime sessions with a focus on open research. Each session features talks, then opportunity for questions and discussion. For more details of topics and dates, see their website.

Case study on using the BEAR portal and BlueBEAR

Adia picture

In this month’s case study, SNOW much fun: BEAR helps generate Open Access snow data, we talk to

Adrià Fontrodona-Bach, a 4th year Ph.D. student in Geography, who has been making use of BlueBEAR and the BEAR Portal to enable him to create large Open Access datasets.

BEAR drop-in sessions

We are holding both virtual and in-person drop-in sessions this term. Further details, including how to join the virtual sessions are available on our drop-in webpage. Upcoming dates are also listed below: 

  • Undercroft, Biosciences – Wednesday 28th February, 12:30 – 13:30
  • Via Zoom – Monday 4th March, 13:30 – 14:30
  • Wolfson Common Room, Medical School – Wednesday 6th March, 12:00 – 13:00
  • Via Zoom – Tuesday 19th March, 10:00 – 11:00

Missed last month’s newsletter?

Find January’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