News in Brief - Spring 2019
28 Feb 2019
-     Marion O'Sullivan



SC18 in Dallas, CIUK 2018 in Manchester, UK Climate Prediction, Artificial Intelligence, Carbon Dioxide reduction, a new national research facility, and both team and individual achievements all feature in this bumper edition.

SC18 logo



​This is an extra-long 'News in brief' to tell you about some of the exciting activities we have been involved in over the past few months. Looking back at 2018 we seem to have had an extraordinarily busy year and the last few months were no exception.  Our staff attended conferences, participated in panel sessions and led workshops, as well as producing some good research and publications.  The start of 2019 has been just as hectic with no slowing of activity! This is just a flavour of what we've been up to in recent months

Supercomputing 2018 (SC18) in Dallas

DSC_0912.JPGThis event is the biggest annual conference and exhibition in the HPC calendar and the Scientific Computing Department (SCD) once again had a strong presence there, along with our colleagues from the Digital Infrastructure Department and the STFC Hartree Centre.  You can see some of the SCD team pictured in the group photo below. 

We took a large booth with artwork and exhibits showcasing the range of work we do across two campuses, working with the UK's National Facilities, such as the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and the Diamond Light Source, and with international partners and projects around the globe.

Our booth included a display of research posters as well as a number of videos on large screens, which inspired interaction with conference delegates who were keen to find out more and discuss collaboration possibilities. The booth also had a couple of interactive displays – a Lego 'beamline' and a Raspberry Pi cluster - both of which proved very popular.​​


Staff from our Computational Chemistry Group presented a poster in the SC18 technical poster session that was judged as one of the top five conference posters, so we congratulate them on a great achievement.

Catherine.PNGOur staff attended a great many of the talks, workshops and tutorials on offer in the conference technical programme, as well as presenting sessions and participating in 'Birds of a Feather' panel discussions (see Catherine Jones, our Software Engineering Group Leader,  in the photo on the left).

SC18 was also a 30th birthday celebration for the conference, which first started in 1988. We have been exhibiting there and our staff have been attending the conference for the past 20 years, so were very pleased to be recognised as one of the ​SC18_history.pngconference's 'History Makers'​

In 2019 the SC conference returns to Denver so we are already looking forward to meeting old friends and new.

​Computing Insight UK 2018 (CIUK)

Hot on the heels of that conference was Computing Insight UK, SCD's very own supercomputing conference, held in Manchester in December.   

38302463305_affae76c1c_z.jpgOur keynote speaker was Dr Fred Streitz, Director of Innovation from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US. He delivered a very clear and engaging talk about the role of machine learning and predictive simulation in the US Cancer Moonshot initiative, which aims to accelerate research, improve cancer detection and prevention, and make more therapies available.

Talks and workshops were all well-attended and there was an excited buzz around the conference as delegates, exhibitors and speakers mingled in the exhibitor hall following talks and workshop sessions.

The first CIUK Student Poster Competition was also held this year and attracted some exceptional students and projects. The finalists all attended the conference for the final round of judging, which proved to be no DxhimkAXQAAkQ-J.jpgeasy task for our judges. However, the decision was made and Josh Borrow from Durham Universitytook both winner's title and the prize of a drone, donated by competition sponsor BeeGFS. Josh and his prize are pictured right, along with judges Tom Griffin (SCD), Marco Merkel (ThinkParQ) and Jackie Pallas (Kings College, London ​

This was a particularly successful conference and it's growing bigger each year. You can take a look at some of the activity and very positive comments from participants and exhibitors on the CIUK twitter feed.

Other conferences and workshops

SCD staff members spoke at a number of other conferences and workshops – far too many to mention here, but they included  Clusters, Clouds, and Data for Scientific Computing held in France to evaluate the state-of-the-art and future trends for cluster computing and the use of computational clouds for scientific computing. Our Chief Data Scientist, Tony Hey, was speaking at that event. Then there was the Genome Science 2018 conference in Nottingham – Will Rowe from our Biology and Life Sciences group gave an account of two software tools concerned with antimicrobial resistance, that he has developed for the STFC Hartree Centre.  

The Computational Chemistry Group has been very active with training courses and workshops being held in November, December, January and February.  They trained participants to use the DL_Software suite at the PRACE Winter School in Bulgaria and at the CCP5 event in Manchester. They joined colleagues in the Theoretical and Computational Physics Group and CoSeC to run the two-day 'Forcefields: Status, Challenges and Vision' workshop at the Daresbury Laboratory in January.

Speeding up data analysis with AI technology

​SCD's Chief Data Scientist, Tony Hey, is co-directing a project that will use machine learning and AI to make the process of analysing experimental data produced by STFC's national science facilities much faster and more efficient. Formed in collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute, the Turing Hub will be hosted and managed by SCD. Read more.

UK Climate Projections

Great_Britain_and_Ireland_large_credit_ESA (1).jpgAntony Watson, one of the talented members of our Research Software Group, wrote the user interface for UK Climate Projections 2018, which uses the latest science from the Met Office and others to illustrate a range of future climate scenarios to the end of this Century.  The user interface, provided by SCD in collaboration with STFC's Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA), provides a web-tool that allows anyone from policy makers to businesses and individuals to select maps and graphs for a large range of possible future scenarios. Read more.

New national research facility

The new Physical Sciences Data Science (PSDS) facility became operational on 1 January and is hosted and managed by SCD. This is​ a partnership with the University of Southampton, which will manage the user support. Read more.

Using computer simulations and lasers to convert carbon dioxide into a clean fuel

Gilberto Teobaldi who leads our Theoretical and Computational Physics Group, has been collaborating with the STFC Central Laser Facility and the University of Liverpool to develop and test a new technique that will enable carbon dioxide conversion on a commercial scale.  Their results were recently published in Nature Catalysis. Read more

HackathonONION tool_DAFNI.PNG

The DAFNI development team were winners in a hackathon 'race against the clock' to create prediction models for an infrastructure project. This was part of a two-day knowledge-sharing, collaboration-forming event held by the Infrastructure Projects Authority. 

Read more and see a brief video of the winning 'ONION' geospatial tool that the team developed.


We congratulate our Head of Data Division, ​Juan Bicarregui, who has been elected to the executive board of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), a project aiming to make all data produced by publically-funded research available to everyone. Read more.

Congratulations are also in order for Gilberto Teobaldi, who has been awarded a Visiting Scientist position at the Solid State Physics Laboratory of Paris Sud University, Orsay, France for 2019. The position aims to sustain collaborative research in the development of novel chemical strategies.

SCDreport2018.PNGSCD Highlights

The latest SCD Highlights Report has been published – take a look if you haven't seen it yet!


Contact: O'Sullivan, Marion (STFC,RAL,SC)