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E-Science - The Changing Landscape

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This workshop will discuss the current issues/challenges facing the e-Science community. The e-Science landscape has changed a lot over the past few years and in order to ensure the effective embedding of e-Science we felt it timely to provide an opportunity to consider these changes. The workshop is being organised by NeSC and will take place on the 16th and 17th April 2009.

The first day

is open only to e-Science Directors and will follow on from the breakout sessions at the last e-Science Directors Forum meeting. If you feel you should be invited to this part of the meeting please contact Sarah Fulford or Anna Kenway.

Some of the issues which will be addressed are:

  1. How do we ensure the embedding of e-Science?
  2. What has happened to the regional role now that not all centres are funded? Where does a new researcher (in a 'non-centre' University) go if they want to find out about e-Science? How do all the centres link together and how do they support each other?
  3. How do we integrate local and national e-Infrastructure?

Planned outcomes:

  1. The event will lead to a report summarising the recommendations.
  2. It will be made available on the NeSC web site and become an e-Science report.
  3. It will be offered for discussion & comment to the e-Science Directors' Forum and the EPSRC Research Facilities SAT.
  4. It will be made available to those compiling material for the UKRC review of e-Science.

The second day

will be open to all e-Science and HPC researchers and we will also be inviting university IT service providers. The main focus of the day will be about 'meeting the researchers' and will include:

  1. Success stories (presentations)
  2. Reports on user requirements from eUptake
  3. Half-day 'village market' of demos - timed and in parallel with community discussion after. This could focus on either success stories or available tools or both

Widening the participation will enable the outputs from the first day to be discussed with the wider community, and this will also enable the discussion of how specialist providers (such as the e-Science centres) link in with local university provision.

If you would like to run a demo than please let either Sarah Fulford or Anna Kenway know.

Draft Agenda

Coffee will be provided beforehand.

Day 1: Directors' workshop

Chair: Malcolm Atkinson

10:00 Welcome - Malcolm Atkinson - Overview of where we are now and what this meeting is trying to achieve, order of the day

10:30 Food for thought: Input from research programmes on embedding e-Science - final and interim conclusions - what have we learnt so far?

  • 10:30 Alex Voss (NCeSS) - e-Uptake (30 mins)
  • 11:00 Marina Jirotka (OeRC) - Embedding e-Science (30 mins)
  • 11;30 Success story: White Rose Grid - Jie Xu (30 mins)
  • 12:00 Panel discussion. (Speakers form panel - see note 1 below)
  • 12:30 Briefing for breakout sessions - John Brooke

12:40 - 13:30 Lunch

13:30 Chair: John Brooke - all afternoon
Three breakout groups (A, B & C).
This follows on from the discussion at the KCL e-Science Director's Forum.
Participants are asked to prepare in advance notes or slides to help the discussion reach specific conclusions quickly.
Each breakout group should have one of the speakers from the first session present.
Each breakout group should appoint a rapporteur who will present their conclusions in the 16:00 session.
The questions addressed by the groups (given in Note 2 below) are assigned as follows.
A: 1, 4 & 7
B: 2, 5 & 7
C: 3, 6 & 7

15:00 - 15:30 Coffee

15:30 - 16:00 Review of break-out group outcomes (Chair: John Brooke)

16:00 - 17:30 The way forward (Chair: John Brooke)

  • What can we say about the embedding of e-Science?
  • How do we re-organise support for e-Science in the UK?
  • What has happened to the regional roles?

For more questions to be addressed in this session see note 3 below.

Dinner at the Heights Restaurant at 19:30

Day 2: Engaging research with e-Infrastructure

Chair: Paul Watson

09:30 Welcome - Malcolm Atkinson - overview of yesterday's outcomes.

09:45 Leif Laaksonen Helsinki eIRG

10:30 The future of NGS (Andrew Richards) (15 mins)

10:45 The future of OMII-UK (Neil Chue Hong) (15 mins)(includes ENGAGE)

11:00 The future of DCC (Chris Rusbridge) (15 mins)

11:15 'Research computing and central IT services - reports from the field' Bruce Beckles (15 mins)

11:30 - 12:30 Discussion

12:30 - 13:00 Lunch

13:30 - 15:00 Village market demo of success stories. (Note that demos and posters are also available previous afternoon.)
Coffee available during session

  • e-Science Central - Paul Watson (Newcastle)
  • NaCTeM - John McNaught (Manchester)
  • Virtual Vellum - Peter Ainsworth (Sheffield)
  • VERA - Mark Baker (Reading)
  • Building Portals for Computational Chemistry - Jos Koetsier & Jano van Hemert (OMII-UK / NeSC)
  • Linking and QUerying Ancient Texts - Ally Hume, Mark Hedges & Mike Jackson (OMII-UK / EPCC/ KCL)
  • Taverna Workbench - Paul Fisher (OMII-UK / Manchester)
  • Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis - Rob Kitchen (Edinburgh)
  • BeSC & BBC - Terry Harmer & Peter Wright (Queen's, Belfast)
  • Computational Steering in HPCx - Adrian Jackson (EPCC)

15:00 - 15:30 Conclusions and next steps Chair: Dave de Roure
"What are the three key items to address to make e-Science successful over the next five years?"

Presentations from the workshop

The talks can be found on the eSI Web Page for the event.

"Village Market" of Demos

There will be seven 'stations' satationed around the Crammond-Swanston. each station includes a desk, screen etc. The 'market' lasts one hour. Each demo lasts 20 mins (so there are 21 slots in the hour) and has produced a couple of paragraphs of description so that participants can decided beforehand which ones to go to. Each participant attends 3 sessions. After the sessions are over, everyone reconvenes to discuss.

Schedule and brief description of the demos.


This section can be used for discussion, outcomes etc.


Note 1: The first session on day one should answer the following questions:

  1. How well is e-Science (aka e-Research) embedding in your institution/community/the UK?
    • What strategies work?
    • What strategies fail?
    • Do we understand why some work and others don't?
  2. What is the most urgent thing to do next?
  3. What is the most important thing to do next?

Note 2: Questions for the breakout sessions (day 1 after lunch):

  1. How do you meet your community's needs for S/W, data, tools and services for research?
  2. How do you help people engage in collaborative research? e.g. supporting any aspects of the formation and conduct of interdisciplinary, multi-site, long-term research?
  3. How do you integrate facilities and resources to make them easier to use or more cost effective and support their combination and interworking?
  4. How do you conduct awareness raising, outreach, industrial liaison, training and support in order to improve your research community's capabilities and encourage the appropriate uptake of e-Science methods?
  5. How do you support newcomers to your community, from awareness raising to successful application?
  6. How is career progression managed both for those supporting and innovating e-Science facilities and for those adapting them for their research communities?
  7. How do you sustain your commitments and provide continuity of services and at the same time advance your own knowledge so that the facilities that are provided remain leading edge?

Note 3: Question which session 3, 15:30 to 17:30, on day one seeks to answer:

  1. Is there a role for e-Science Centres (National, Regional or Disciplinary) any more?
    • If yes, what is it?
    • Are there some things they should all do?
    • Are they capable of continuing to do those things?
  2. What other activities provide the Centres with the opportunity for building on e-Science capital of both people and equipment?
  3. What should the research institutions (universities and laboratories) do for themselves?
    • And how should they do it?
    • Do they need help or are they self sufficient?
    • Do they support their neighbours?
    • Do they exploit regional or discipline specific funding to move to sustainability?
  4. What are the most urgent or important coordinated actions needed to continue and increase the impact of e-Science on UK research capabilities?
    • Do these need to be coordinated and if so how?

Centre and Project Contributions

Breakout Discussion

Space for notes, presentations, thoughts etc.

Group A

Question 1:

  1. Understanding need
    1. Co-location
      • Pros-better understanding of different communities and accidental knowledge transfer
      • Cons-expensive, enforces distance from the technology, those who do not work under this system are disadvantaged.
    2. Need an imaginative leap to make sure you appreciate others points of view.
  2. The triangle of trade - domain/user vs innovative researchers vs service
    1. e-science is trying to do all 3 but funding agencies take on different bits.
    2. What happens after someone does a pilot project that covers the triangle?
    3. Where does the training for researchers come from?
    4. What is the benefit to the innovative researchers who allow their innovations to be given out?
  3. Meeting community needs.
    1. Breaking down barriers early on.
    2. Courting.
    3. 2 people in different areas can come to a mutual understanding.

Question 4:

  1. Champions from inside any area can promote it to their colleagues - will be more trusted than an outsider trying to sell it to them.
    • OMII has subject level champions and NGS is implementing institutional champions which are working well.
  2. Dissemination is key
    • Brochures
    • Need targeted and sustainable dissemination
    • Summer and Winter schools
    • Blogging
    • Go to conferences of other communities (e.g. Chemistry) and wow them with a piece of relevant e-science research. Then feed this back to e-science community.
  3. This is all labour-intensive to do well - PIs need to be forced to do outreach. Dependent on funding. A step-change in thinking is needed.

Question 7:

  1. Where is the best place to provide a service?
    • national
    • institutional
    • within the computing dept
      Those that are successful seem to hover between them all.
  2. What is a well-founded lab?
    • what should be covered under FEC?
    • here is an opportunity for the community to define what they think this is for e-science and what core infrastructure is needed. e.g. JANET
  3. Is e-science here to stay?
    • a clear message is needed from Government and RCs otherwise it is very hard to engage VCs, users etc.
    • do we need a re-badging exercise?
Group B

B Discussion Outcomes

Group C
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