Speakers and Panellists

This page contains brief biographies for the speakers at the Digital Research Infrastructure Retreat. The page will be updated regularly as new speakers are added.

The list is arranged alphabetically by surname.

Tania Allard is the co-director at Quansight Labs and previous Sr. Developer Advocate at Microsoft.

She has vast experience in academic research and industrial environments. Her main areas of expertise are within data-intensive applications, scientific computing, and machine learning. Tania has conducted extensive work on the improvement of processes, reproducibility and transparency in research, data science and artificial intelligence.

She is passionate about mentoring, open source, and its community and is involved in a number of initiatives aimed to build more diverse and inclusive communities. She is also a contributor, maintainer, and developer of a number of open source projects and the Founder of Pyladies NorthWest.

In her free time she likes tinkering with electronics, nerding with mechanical keyboards, reading all the books and lifting heavy weights.

Batool Almarzouq is a computational biologist affiliated with the University of Liverpool in the UK and KAIMRC in Saudi Arabia. She has a PhD in Cancer Biology from the University of Liverpool. She is also a part of R-Ladies Global committee, a worldwide organization to promote gender diversity in the R community and a core contributor to The Turing Way, an open-source community-driven guide to reproducible, ethical and collaborative data science as well as certified Carpentry instructor - content coordinator for the ISCB Academy.

As an advocate for Open Science and its role in improving scientific and economic outputs in the Middle East, she established an Open Science Community in Saudi Arabia (OSCSA). OSCSA aims to create significant value towards Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, which focuses on enhancing knowledge and improving equal access to education in the Kingdom. It introduces Open Science practices to data scientists and provides a place where newcomers and experienced peers interact, inspire each other to embed open science practices and values in their workflows and provide feedback on policies, infrastructures and support services.

Emma Barnes leads the research computing and HPC team at the University of York which includes a combination of infrastructure specialists and Research Software Engineers.

Emma's background was in Astro-Particle Physics where she became a programming and Linux enthusiast. Her current work involves overseeing the HPC infrastructure and planning for future research computing facilities at the University as well as providing general support. She has a strong interest in searching out new technologies that can help academics fulfil their research goals.

Alastair Basden manages the Tier-1 COSMA supercomputer at Durham University which is part of the STFC-funded DiRAC national facility, and primarily used for cosmological research.

Karen Bower is a senior research officer in the Advanced Research Computing (ARC) unit in Durham University , where she helps to look after HPC services and the people who use them. The team manages the Bede Tier-2 HPC service and Durham's local HPC service.

Karen has held previous roles in academic research IT, most recently building up and supporting Newcastle University's first institution-wide HPC service. A long time ago, she held a number of research fellowships in astronomy.

Alys Brett is Head of the Software Engineering Group at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the UK’s national lab for nuclear fusion research and development.

After several years as an RSE (before it was called that) she moved on to lead a team and has now established multiple software teams focussed on Experimental data systems and tools, Information Systems, and Research Software Engineering. Alys has also been involved in building the national and international Research Software Engineering movement for many years and was Founding President of the Society of Research Software Engineering.

In all these activities her interest is in how we can work together better to make the most of the talent and enthusiasm available for research and innovation, to give fulfilling careers and good outcomes for society.

Louise Brown is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham. She's had a varied career, moving from the Mechanical Engineering to Computer Science, followed by thirteen years as a self-employed software engineer

Louise returned to the Composites Research Group at Nottingham in 2009 with responsibility for development of TexGen open-source software for modelling the geometry of textile structures. She moved to an academic post in 2021 following completion of her EPSRC Research Software Engineering Fellowship and is still working out how to combine the academic and RSE roles!

Simon Burbidge is a leading member of the UK HPC community, with a long and highly successful career in HPC in both industry and research.

Currently an independent HPC consultant, Simon lead the Advanced Research Computing Centre at the University of Bristol and the HPC Service at Imperial College London and served in industry at a leading seismic processing company.

Simon has enthusiastically served on user and community groups worldwide and campaigns for career recognition for computational scientists and HPC professionals.

Fiona Burgess is passionate about supercomputing and all it can do for the good of society, our health, our safety and our futures. She started her working life as a Royal Air Force Aerosystems Engineer, becoming a Chartered Aeronautical Engineer, before moving into IT.

After a decade working for two of the top supercomputing companies in the world, Cray and Atos, Fiona recently joined YellowDog, a Bristol based, HPC cloud workload management company.

Tom Burnley graduated with a Master's Degree in Biochemistry from University of Bath in 2003. During this time he discovered a passion for structural biology whilst on a 6 month placement at the ESRF in Grenoble, France.

Following this he gained a PhD in Biophysics from the University of Leeds centred on developing new tools for observing protein dynamics. Wanting to focus on computational methods in 2008 he moved to Utrecht in the Netherlands to PostDoc in the group of Piet Gros and developed phenix.ensemble_refinement, combining x-ray structure refinement with molecular dynamics simulations to reveal protein dynamics from crystallography.

In 2013 he took his current position as leader of CCP-EM (Collaborative Computational Project for Electron cryo-Microscopy, https://www.ccpem.ac.uk/) (Core Team at STFC (Science and Technology Facilities Council) at the Rutherford Appleton national Laboratory. Here he works with a team of internal and external software developers to make the CCP-EM software suite - a set of tools for processing biomolecular cryoEM data and producing high resolution maps of proteins used by both academic- and industry-based researchers.

When not behind a computer he is normally found chasing after his two small children or riding a bike.

Martin Callaghan is part of the Research Computing Team at the University of Leeds. Much of his role is around software engineering, training, consultancy and outreach. He also manages the university’s HPC and research computing training programme, which covers HPC, Cloud and research software development; taking participants from ‘zero to hero.’

Stewart Clark is a professor of computational physics at Durham University specialising in theory and computational methods of electronic structure. He is chair of the EPSRC funded CCP9 computational programme on electronic structure and deputy director of the N8 centre for Computationally Intensive Research (CIR).

He specialises on high performance computing methods for electronic structure, and has been involved with UKRI on the design and procurement of national HPC facilities.

Alison Clarke joined Durham University as an RSE in September 2019 and have worked on projects in several domains, from Physics to Music. Alison was on the organising committees for the online RSE conference series SORSE and SeptembRSE. She is also a Software Sustainability Institute Fellow and a Carpentries Instructor.

Before working as a Research Software Engineer, she spent over 15 years working as a software engineer in industry.

Jeremy Cohen is an Advanced Research Fellow in the Department of Computing and Director of Research Software Engineering Strategy at Imperial College London.

Jeremy has a Computer Science background and has extensive experience of providing research software support to multi-disciplinary research projects in a range of domains.

His research interests include models for research software development and distributed/service-oriented computing. Jeremy started and runs both the local Imperial Research Software Community and the RSLondon regional research software community. He currently holds an EPSRC RSE fellowship.

Mark Dixon Biography to follow.

Andrew Edmondson, also known as 'Ed' started his career as a software engineer and team leader at QinetiQ after completing an MMath at the University of Oxford. He left QinetiQ to complete a BA in Theology at Birmingham Christian College after which he worked part-time as a senior developer at ApplianSys working on embedded Linux and Python firmware for network appliances.

Ed completed a part-time PhD in New Testament Textual Criticism in the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE) at the University of Birmingham supervised by Professor David Parker. The title of his PhD thesis is "An analysis of the coherence-based genealogical method using phylogenetics" and is available online. He is currently an Honorary Fellow of ITSEE.

In 2016 he joined Advanced Research Computing at the University of Birmingham and founded the Research Software Group. He is an active member of the Society of Research Software Engineering, and was the Programme Chair of the 2019 UK RSE Conference.

Katie Finch will shortly take up a new role as Head of Research Software Engineering at the University of Exeter, having led work to establish the team in 2021. Previous roles at the university include Business Manager to the Business School and Manager of the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.

Prior to joining Exeter, Katie spent 9 years as a funder with the MRC and EPSRC.

is currently working at the University of Exeter Business School, on secondment from her role as manager of Exeter’s Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.

Prior to joining Exeter, Katie spent 9 years as a funder with the MRC and EPSRC.

Katie led work to secure internal funding to establish the RSE team at Exeter and is currently interim Head of Research Software Engineering, in a shared role with Dr Omar Jamil.

Derek Groen is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Brunel and technical manager + knowledge exchange coordinator of the ExCALIBUR-funded SEAVEA project.

He received his PhD in 2010 from the University of Amsterdam, and was a PDRA at UCL for five years prior to joining Brunel as Lecturer. He has published 35 journal articles in diverse journals, worked on collaborative software and HPC projects for 16 years and currently leads the development of tools, such as VECMAtk/SEAVEAtk, FabSim3, the Flee migration modelling code and the Flu And Coronavirus Simulator.

He has direct application experience in turbulence, blood flow, materials, pandemic and migration simulation, among other areas.

Robert Haines is Head of Research IT and an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Manchester; a Fellow of the Software Sustainability Institute; and was a founding Trustee of the Society of Research Software Engineering.

He founded the University's central Research Software and Data Science Team in 2014, which has since grown to 30 people. A Computer Scientist by training, Robert's research interests include software engineering, software sustainability, software use in open and reproducible research, software citation and credit, and career paths for software engineers and data scientists.

Martin Hamilton leads digital innovation consultancy MartinH.Net Un Limited, and is involved in several other Digital Research Infrastructure initiatives, working with the Alan Turing Institute supporting the UK AI Research Infrastructure Requirements Review and coordinating UK Exascale supercomputing testbeds as part of the ExCALIBUR programme.

He also provides expert advice to the Chief Scientific Officer at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport as a member of the DCMS College of Experts.

Mariann Hardey is an Associate Professor of Business and Computing at Durham University Business School, and a member of the University of Durham's Directorate for Advanced Research Computing (ARC), where she teaches business inclusivity, self-help, and business technology.

Mariann is passionate about self-development and learning, with a focus on representation among business leaders and practitioners. She has given numerous presentations at international conferences and events, including the first TEDx event in the United Kingdom, and her work has been featured in international media.

Mariann's two most recent books are The Culture of Women in Technology: An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and Household Self-Tracking in a Global Health Crisis.

Niki Harratt is the Marketing and Communications Officer for N8 CIR, in this role he looks after the project’s newsletter, Twitter feed event registration and YouTube channel.

Before this, he held similar roles in the museums and cultural sector, as well as heading up the creative technology team at Stoke-on-Trent Museums.

Sarah Anne Harris (SAH) is Associate Professor in Physics at the University of Leeds.

Sarah is a theoretical physicist who uses computer modelling to gain a mechanistic understanding of how biomolecules perform their functions. She is Chair of the UK Collaborative Computational Project in Biomolecular Simulation (CCPBioSim), which is an EPSRC funded UK network of supporting and developing simulation tools, and acts in a number of advisory roles for e-Infrastructure and multidisciplinary science, including the CCP steering group, and the Collaborative Computational Project in Quantum Computing (CCP-QC) and HECBioSim (which allocates UK supercomputing resources) management groups.

Phil Hasnip is a physicist and computer programmer in the Department of Physics at the University of York. He grew up in the 1980s, where he learned physics at school and computer programming on his Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

He is an EPSRC Research Software Engineering Fellow, and writes computer software to tackle problems in physics research, with a particular interest in making scientific software user-friendly, scalable, efficient and reliable.

Phil is a lead developer of the quantum mechanical materials modelling program CASTEP, and is also part of the "PAX-HPC: Particles At eXascale" project for the UK's ExCALIBUR exascale HPC programme, working to ensure the key UK particles-based cosmological, engineering and materials modelling methods are ready for the next generation of HPC machines.

Peter Heywood is a Research Software Engineer in the RSE Team at the University of Sheffield, with a background in the use of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to accelerate complex system simulations.

In his role as an RSE, Peter has worked on projects in several domains and provides part of the University of Sheffield’s RSE support for the N8 CIR Bede Tier 2 HPC centre, including leading the Documentation taskforce.

Steve Hindmarsh has recently joined the Norwich BioScience Institutes as Head of Research Computing where he leads the services across the four member institutes.

Previously he was Head of Scientific Computing at the Francis Crick Institute for 4.5 years where he was responsible for HPC, research data storage, databases, software engineering and AI/Machine Learning.

He has spent much of his career in the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology supporting researchers in core IT and scientific computing.

Emma Hogan is a Senior Scientific Software Engineer (SSE) at the Met Office. In this unique role she works with different teams across the Met Office for short periods to help them deliver work by providing SSE expertise, for example, improving the performance of systems created by scientists, and designing and developing new systems based on user requirements.

Emma sees her role as firmly rooted in software engineering, enabling scientists and science. As an SSE she does all the things you would expect a software engineer to do (design, develop, test, document, maintain, support), as well as work with scientists and other SSEs to ensure good software engineering and quality assurance practices are followed so they can produce robust and reproducible science.

Simon Hood is the Head of Research Infrastructure and Platforms within Research IT at the University of Manchester. With a PhD in Mathematics from The University of Exeter, he has also worked at The University of Liverpool as a postdoc in Earth Sciences and as a lecturer in the Mathematics Department.

Simon leads the team which develops and supports both on-site computational and storage research platforms and AWS/Azure-based cloud services. These include HPC (the CSF), HTC (the Condor Pool), resilient and high performance storage, the Research VM Service, the Highly Restricted Data Service (including the DSH and REDCap) and the new Edge Compute Service.

Chris Jewell is a Senior Lecturer in Statistics at Lancaster University, who specialises in Monte-Carlo inference methods for epidemic analysis and forecasting.

With a background in (mostly) veterinary epidemiology, he is interested in how statistical methods come together with computing to solve high-dimensional problems in health data science.

Over the last 2 years, he has been working on spatiotemporal modelling of the COVID19 epidemic in the UK, which has demanded rapid development of new statistical methods, fast algorithm run times, and implementation of automated software pipelines.

Sylvain Laizet is a reader in the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College London.

He is the chair of the UK Turbulence Consortium, the CCP Turbulence and the ExCALIBUR project “turbulence at the exascale”. Understanding turbulent flows and how to manipulate them in various engineering applications is the motivation behind his research. With his collaborators, he has developed over the years high-order finite-difference highly-scalable flow solvers dedicated to the study turbulent flows.

Billy McGregor is a portfolio manager in the Research Infrastructure theme at EPSRC. He works with several of EPSRCs digital investments including ARCHER2 and the Tier-2 services; the High end computing Consortia and the ExCALIBUR programme.

Billy also runs the Access to HPC calls and is involved with other access routes to HPC across EPSRC. Previously to EPSRC his background was in mathematics and space science.

Danielle Owen joined the University of Manchester in 2017 as a Postdoc, she later took up a role as Research Data Manager in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health.

Danielle works closely with researchers, Research IT, Core Facilities and the Library to develop new infrastructure, tools and workflows for Core Facilities, helping to establish RDM best practice within our everyday operations. Danielle’s particular areas of interest are Open Science, AWS and managing highly restricted research data.

Oz Parchment Biography to follow.

Mark Parsons is Director of EPCC, the supercomputing centre at the University of Edinburgh.

He has been at EPCC since 1994 following a PhD at CERN. He began his career as a software developer at EPCC followed by 15 years as the Commercial Director. He has been in his current role since 2016. In addition to his role at EPCC, he also works part-time as the Director of Research Computing for EPSRC. In this role he supports UKRI colleagues in the development of the Digital Research Infrastructure programme and is also the Project Director of the UK Exascale Supercomputer Project.

Mike Payne holds the Chair of Computational Physics in the University of Cambridge. He has worked on quantum mechanical total energy calculations since 1985, is the author of the first principles total energy pseudopotential code CASTEP and has been involved in the development of the linear scaling code ONETEP and the LOTF (Learn-On-The-Fly) hybrid modelling scheme.

He has published more than 280 papers which have had over 40,000 citations. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2008, Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 2011 and awarded the 2014 Swan Medal by the Institute of Physics. CASTEP and ONETEP are both sold commercially by Biovia.

He played a major role in the creation of EPSRC’s Research Software Engineering Fellowships.

Robin Pinning has been working in the field of computational science for over 25 years. Initially from a physical chemistry research background in molecular stimulation, through support of national High Performance Computing services when University of Manchester (UoM) had the 4th fastest machine in the top 500, software architect in key UK e-Science projects, leading research applications support across UoM, being a co-founder and Associate Technical Director of EPSRC's Tier 2 N8 HPC service and latterly CTO at STFC’s Hartree Centre.

His initial start in HPC has expanded into data analytics and AI methods and addressing the challenge of applying research and innovation for wider societal and economic benefit.

Robin leads the technical direction at Hartree and drives the technology strategy of the centre and the latest phase of Hartree’s collaboration with IBM Research, the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation.

Matt Probert is Professor of Computational Physics at the University of York and the Director of the N8 Centre of Excellence in Computationally Intensive Research (N8 CIR).

He has been chair of the EPSRC-funded High End Computing Consortia (UKCP) since 2007, and has also been a member of the ARCHER2 Science Board, and the EPSRC HPC SAC. He is a lead developer of the widely-used first principles materials modelling code 'CASTEP' and uses this to study the structure and dynamical properties of matter.

He regularly lectures on HPC and first principles material modelling at the University of York and elsewhere.

Alan Real is the Director of Advanced Research Computing (ARC) at Durham University, Technical Director of the N8 Centre for Computationally Intensive Research (N8-CIR) and Director of the EPSRC Tier-2 service, Bede.

Beginning his career as a Beowulf system administrator after a PhD in Molecular Biophysics, Alan has undertaken roles in HPC user support before moving towards developing and managing research computing units both within IT organisations and as a dedicated department within research division.

Alan held Executive roles within the High Performance Computing Special Interest Group for several years and has recently concluded his term as Chair of the committee that assists STFC with its oversight of DiRAC.

Richard Regan is Training Manager at the DiRAC HPC Facility, which provides computing resources for the UK’s theoretical astrophysics, particle physics, cosmology and nuclear physics communities. Richard is also a DiRAC Systems Manager at Durham University and qualified Nvidia Ambassador.

Richard trained as a digital engineer before working as a software engineer for 15 years with companies such as British Steel and Rolls Royce and spending another 8 years teaching software engineering before joining DiRAC.

Paul Richmond is a Professor of Research Software Engineering at the University of Sheffield. Previously an EPSRC RSE fellow, he is the founder of the RSE group at the University of Sheffield.

Paul has a track-record of forming interdisciplinary collaborations to achieve agenda-driven research. He is an excellent communicator with a long term record of engaging scientists and engineers from diverse interdisciplinary fields to deliver requirement-driven software solutions.

He leads the Research Software Engineering group at the University of Sheffield which more broadly embeds software engineering skills and software engineering best practice into interdisciplinary collaborations to facilitate better and more sustainable research.

Alongside running the RSE team he is an investigator on software led research. He has specific interests in developing software which facilitates the pioneering use of emerging high-performance computing architectures for complex systems simulation within computational science and engineering.

Gillian Sinclair is the Programme Manager for N8 CIR where she is responsible for coordinating the centre’s activities and reporting to a wide range of stakeholders across N8.

She is also a Research IT Relationship Manager at the University of Manchester where she looks after Research IT communications and user outreach and engagement.

Andy Turner is a Principal Architect at EPCC at the University of Edinburgh. Much of his current work is focussed on making the UK national supercomputing service, ARCHER2 as useful and productive as possible for researchers.

During his time at EPCC he has been involved in multiple UK national supercomputing services, including HPCx, HECToR and ARCHER and also works with the DiRAC national HPC service.

Heather Turner is an EPSRC Research Software Engineering Fellow based in the Statistics Department at the University of Warwick.

Her career path has spanned both academia and industry, with a focus on the development of statistical code and software using R. Heather is active in community management and engagement among R users and developers. In her fellowship, she is working to improve sustainability and equality, diversity and inclusion in the R project.

Mark Turner leads the Research Software Engineering team in the Digital Institute. The team focuses on delivering software engineering expertise for research projects across the university.

he graduated with a BSc in Computing from Northumbria University in 2008 followed by an MSc from Newcastle University in 2012. In 2016 he was elected as a trustee for the UK Research Software Engineering Association, contributing to the transformation of the association into a registered charity in 2018.

Ash Vadagama has worked within HPC for over 30 years.

He started his career as a computer scientist developing scientific software on early vector supercomputers, then developed secure Linux clusters, various emerging technologies, Petascale HPC systems and resilient HPC facilities. Ash collaborated with US national laboratories and other international partners, later moving into leadership, programme and financial management.

Ash passionately supports leading-edge computational capabilities for UK PLC as a fundamental tool for Science, and works with UK Government, UK Research Councils, Academia and Industry on long-term computational programmes and future technology strategies. Currently, his scientific interests include AI, Exascale, Quantum Computation / Algorithms and Cyber-Security.

Ash holds degrees in Computer Science (QMC, London) and Software Engineering (University of Oxford).

Adrian Wander Biography to follow.

Marion Weinzierl is a Research Software Engineer with ARC at Durham University, and the RSE Theme Leader of the N8 Centre of Excellence for Computationally Intensive Research (CIR), as well as a trustee of the Society of Research Software Engineering. She has a degree in Media Informatics and a PhD in Scientific Computing.

Tobias Weinzierl is the head of the Scientific Computing Research Group at Durham University, the inaugurate director of the Master in Scientific Computing and Data Analysis (MISCADA), and as PI or Co-I on multiple HPC projects tied to the UK’s exascale programme ExCALIBUR, Archer2 and Intel’s oneAPI Centre of Excellence.

Mark Wilkinson is the director of the DiRAC HPC Facility, which provides computing resources for the theoretical astrophysics, particle physics, cosmology and nuclear physics communities in the UK.

Mark is a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Leicester, specialising in the study of dark matter in galaxies using a combination of observations, theoretical models and machine learning. He has published almost 100 peer-reviewed papers and has more than 15,000 citations.

Christopher Woods is Head of Research Software Engineering at the University of Bristol. He founded the group in 2016, via an EPSRC RSE Fellowship. The group has grown to 10 members, and now works with researchers across the University.

Christopher was Joint-Chair of the UKRSE Association from 2016-2019 and a founding trustee of the Society of RSE. His background is in computational chemistry, working at the Universities of Southampton and Bristol from 1999-2014, primarily focussed on developing molecular modelling software.

Claire Wyatt joined the University of Southampton in 2009 and until December 2015 she managed the Web Science Doctoral Training Centre. In January 2016 she moved roles to work as the RSE Network Coordinator with the RSG team on the EPSRC RSE network grant. In this role, she worked on several successful new initiatives like the RSE conference and RSE leaders meetings.

Since January 2019 Claire has been employed by the Software Sustainability Institute as the Community Manager for Research Software Engineering and she serves as a trustee for the Society of Research Software Engineering. She has responsibility for delivering the annual RSE conference on behalf of the Society, along with supporting the RSE community to meet the community and Society's goals.

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