The University of Southampton

World’s first conference for Research Software Engineers hailed phenomenal success

Published: 12 October 2016
Delegates at the RSE conference

The world’s first conference for Research Software Engineers (RSEs) has been hailed a ‘phenomenal success’ by a Web and Internet Science (WAIS) researcher, who helped to organise the event.

Dr Simon Hettrick, from the WAIS research group in Electronics and Computer Science, was part of a Software Sustainability Institute team that hosted the event focusing exclusively on issues affecting people who write and use software in research.

Simon, a founding member and Deputy Director of the Institute, said: “RSEs are absolutely fundamental to research. They work with researchers to gain an understanding of the problems they face; and then develop, maintain and extend software to provide the answers.

“We wanted to give them the opportunity to share their methods and best practice on a much wider scale than they can at the moment.”

More than 200 RSEs from 14 different countries attended the innovative conference at the Museum of Science and Industry, in Manchester.

Simon added: “Seventy per cent of researchers report that their work has a fundamental reliance on software, so if we want the UK to continue to be a major research leader, then effort and resources must be invested into nurturing our community of RSEs.

“The RSE conference was a phenomenal success. It created a huge number of new collaborations and brought further attention to the fundamental importance of the RSE role in academia. I feel very positive about the future.”

Conference delegates learnt about the cutting-edge techniques being used in research and listened to a broad range of speakers including a keynote talk by Matthew Johnson, Leader of the Agile Projects Team, from Microsoft Research, in Cambridge, and Professor Susan Halford, a Director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton.

The Software Sustainability Institute was set up six years ago by a team of experts from the universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford and Southampton, to support the UK’s research software community with cultivating better, more sustainable research software to enable world-class research. The Institute committed itself to promoting RSEs and the vital role they play in global research.

To find out more about the Software Sustainability Institute visit

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