Research computing is in an exciting era and has never as fast evolved as in the last 20 years. We can nowadays answer research questions that we could not even ask two decades ago. This has led to discoveries such as the analyses of DNA from Next-Generation Sequencing technologies. The increased complexity of software, data, hardware and lab instruments demands for more openness and sharing of data and methods. Researchers and educators are not necessarily IT specialists though. Thus, a further trend in research computing is the shift from system-centric design to user-centric design and interdisciplinary teams – complex solutions are offered in self-explanatory user interfaces, so-called science gateways or virtual research environments. I will present solutions and projects supporting users to be able to focus on their research questions without the need to become acquainted with the nitty-gritty details of the complex research computing infrastructure. Key aspects of the presented projects are usability and interoperability of computational methods, reproducibility of research results as well as sustainability of research software. Sustainability of research software has many facets. I advocate for improving the diversity in workforce development, career paths for research software engineers and for incentivizing their work via means beyond the traditional academic rewarding system.
Sandra Gesing is an Associate Research Professor in Computer Science and Engineering and a Computational Scientist at the Center for Research Computing at the University of Notre Dame. She is also a Visiting Research Professor in the HUBzero team at the University of California, San Diego and a member of the Leadership team in the program “National Model for Long-Term Support of High-Potential Kids in Unstable Housing” in the 4 Foundations Division of Chicago Hopes for Kids.
Prior to the position at Notre Dame, she was a research associate in the Data-Intensive Research Group at the University of Edinburgh, UK and in the Applied Bioinformatics Group at the University of Tübingen, Germany. Additionally, she has perennial experience as a project manager and system developer in industry in the US and Germany and founded two startup companies. As head of a system programmer group, she has led long-term software projects. She received her Master’s degree in computer science from extramural studies at the FernUniversität Hagen and her PhD in computer science from the University of Tübingen, Germany. More details can be found under http://sandra-gesing.com/.