The aims of the RSE webinar series are:

  • to promote the work of RSEs as widely as possible;
  • to highlight the contributions RSEs make to research;
  • to provide a forum for sharing of expertise and best practise;
  • to allow RSEs to continue to develop their skills.

We expect the webinar series to cover a broad range of topics of interest to the the RSE community (and beyond) but some ideas for subjects could be:

  • describing a project you have undertaken and the impact on research;
  • introducing a new tool or technique you have used;
  • covering an issue or topic that is relevant to RSEs and their careers;
  • summarising something interesting you have learned recently (e.g. from a conference or meeting).

Please note that webinar proposals that have a marketing bias will not be allowed in this series.

We will try to schedule webinars in the regular slot of 1pm UK time on Wednesdays with the frequency determined by how many people offer to present. It may not be possible to always use this particular time and day due to speaker availability and time zone location; and we aim to be flexible to allow anyone who wishes to present to be able to. All webinars will be recorded, made available on YouTube and linked from the webinar page on the UK-RSE website.

The maximum length of webinar sessions is 50 minutes and we would expect presentations to last between 15-30 minutes to leave plenty of time for discussion afterwards.

Webinar presenters need no special technology or facilities, you can present from your laptop/workstation as long as it has an internet connection and a microphone. We will arrange technology tests ahead of the live session to give speakers the confidence that their webinar will work properly.

If you are interested in presenting a webinar in the series then please contact us at and we will try to find a time and date that suits you.

Upcoming Webinars

The Journey Matters More than the Destination – Python Weirdness with Metaclasses and Descriptors

Christopher Cave-Ayland, Senior Research Computing Engineer, University of Southampton

Date: 1300 GMT, Wednesday 30 January 2019

Join Link:

Abstract: This talk grew out of a seemly simple question. How can I (without getting really really bored) take a Python library written in the style of C++ and make it more Pythonic? The answer(s) I will share in this talk provided an interesting tour of some of the key features of the Python language. In particular those that make Python different than C++ and fundamentally impact the design principles of the language.

Was the end result useful? Probably not, but I learned a lot about the inner workings of Python on the way. In particular in this talk I will review some of the finer details of how Python classes are created, how property decorators work and how to create potentially useful variations upon them.

The target library in question was the Python interface to the OpenMM simulation package ( The resulting Pythonic version of the library is named KAPOW (

Bio: Chris Cave-Ayland is based at the University of Southampton working as part of the local High Performance Computing team. He previously worked for several years as a postdoc developing the Fortran + Python Monte Carlo molecular simulation code ProtoMS.

Previous Webinars

Meltdown for Dummies

David Henty, EPCC

Date: 1300 BST, Wed 10 October 2018

Abstract: News of the Meltdown Security Vulnerability caused a big stir at the start of 2018. This was not surprising as it meant that any user could read any memory on almost any modern system, bypassing all security measures! In this webinar I will try and explain the origin of Meltdown from a dummy’s point of view (i.e. my own), using an everyday analogy of accessing documents from a lawyer’s office. Even if you’re not that concerned with IT security, I hope that this talk will help explain how modern multi-user computers actually work.

Bio: David Henty has worked at EPCC for over 20 years focussing on HPC training and parallel application development. His training work has covered delivering courses for the national HPC services such as ARCHER, online training and MOOCs, and running EPCC’s MSc in HPC programmes. On the technical side he has mainly worked on performance programming for CPUs and GPUs, parallel programming models and parallel IO.

Interfacing to/from Python with C, FORTRAN or C++

Chris Richardson, University of Cambridge

Date: 1300 BST, Wed 19 September 2018

Abstract:  A beginners guide to writing Python wrappers for high-level compiled code. Maybe you want to interface some legacy code, or have a library in C or C++, or simply need to improve performance by compiling part of your Python? Examples will include ctypes, cffi, numba and pybind11.

Bio: Chris Richardson is based at the BP Institute in the University of Cambridge. He works on various finite element software projects, and is a core developer of FEniCS, a NumFOCUS sponsored finite element package in C++/Python.

Introduction to Object-Oriented Design for Scientists

Huseyin Ergin, Ball State University

Date: 1300 BST, Wed 29 August 2018

Abstract: Software is a crucial part of research in many fields today. Many researchers either use off-the-shelf software or develop custom software to accomplish their goals in their respective areas. Custom software development allows researchers the flexibility in their work, however, it’s not an easy task. There are various software engineering approaches to make the complex software development easier. In this talk, we make an introduction to one of the most crucial development approach: object-oriented design (OOD). OOD help us build complex software in a reusable and modular way by laying out the concepts and principles for great software design.

Bio: Huseyin is an assistant professor of Computer Science Department at Ball State University. He pursued his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Alabama. His research interests include software engineering, model-driven engineering, and model transformation. He worked in various industries as a software developer including the R&D department at Huawei Telecommunications, the IT department at Mercedes-Benz US International, a smart shopping assistant startup called Mona, and a wedding ring manufacturing company called Benchmark. His projects in these companies gave him an extensive look at the software development practices in various settings. He has been in the organization committee of successful local programming and robotics competitions and camps. Lately, he is closely working with industry partners on software engineering techniques and practices.

Blackboard Collaborate

The RSE webinar sessions are broadcast using Blackboard Collaborate, a web conference system featuring video, audio, slide sharing, chat, etc. You can use Collaborate from a desktop or laptop computer or from a tablet or smartphone.

How to Join a Collaborate Session

Windows / OS X / Linux

Chrome is strongly recommended as the preferred browser, but most modern browsers will work for joining a session as a participant. Details about supported browsers can be found on the Blackboard website.

There is a Session Preparation & Checklist page which you may find useful.

Android or iOS

Collaborate is available on mobile devices (tablets, smartphones) running iOS or Android using the Bb Student app.

Session Presenters

Only Chrome supports Application Sharing so you are strongly advised to use Chrome when presenting a session. Firefox is able to use Share Files but this does not allow interactivity or animation within a powerpoint and will not allow you to share e.g. a Terminal window.

The UK national supercomputing service, ARCHER, have produced a ‘Guide to presenting a Webinar via BlackBoard Collaborate‘ to help presenters get started and a video walk-through:

BlackBoard’s own guide to Sharing content is also very good and provides even more detail.