Scientific Computing Department team to manage new national research facility
15 Nov 2018



Researchers  in the UK will soon be able to make better use of data through a new national research facility

​​​STFC Scientific Computing Department's Data Centre in Oxfordshire.

​​​​STFC Scientific Computing Department's Data Centre in Oxfordshire.

Credit: STFC/ Sean Dillow

Chemists, Material Scientists and other researchers across the physical scientists will have a one-stop shop to find and use information from many different places, making it easier and quicker to do their science.  It gives the opportunity to combine data from different research areas, so science can be conducted across disciplines to gain new insights.

The Scientific Computing Department at STFC and the School of Chemistry at the University of Southampton have been awarded a research grant of £3m to run the Physical Sciences Data Science (PSDS) facility, which will become operational on 1 January 2019. The new facility will build on the current National Chemical Database Service and ​will work closely with the Royal Society of Chemistry, which provides that service, to ensure continuity for users during the transition.

The new service will cover more areas of science from archaeology to astrophysics and,​ by providing access to many data sources together in one place, the PSDS facility will reduce the need to search over multiple databases. Rather than just accessing results data, users will be able to ask complex scientific queries and run artificial intelligence algorithms to obtain meaningful insights from the data.

Dr Brian Matthews and Dr Juan Bicarregui will lead the team at STFC's Scientific Computing Department (SCD), hosting and managing the PSDS Facility. As one of the largest centres in scientific computing services in the UK, SCD has extensive expertise and experience in providing support to several National Facilities and their users, including the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, and the Diamond Light Source, both major centres for physical science research.

Dr Matthews, leader of SCD's Data Science and Technology group, said, “We'll be providing a system that  will make it easier for users to get the data they need for their research. Our aim is to provide access to different suppliers so that users can find the data they need in one place and combine it together in their programs.  This will mean that scientists will be able to gain new insights from the data more quickly."

Professor Robert McGreevy, Director of STFC's ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, said: “STFC National Facilities – ISIS, Diamond and the Central Laser Facility – are major producers of physical science data so we have a strong interest in data management and effective downstream utilisation. We welcome this opportunity to work closer with PSDS and link 'our' data to 'theirs'."

 Notes​ for editors:

The grant has been provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. Both EPSRC and STFC are part of UK Research and Innovation

For more information see the University of Southampton press release

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