Jonathan Dursi

home banner

Things I Learned from Looking at 500 Research Computing Manager Jobs over 10 Months

I write a weekly newsletter for research computing managers, team leads, or those aspiring to those roles. One of the things I’ve wanted to emphasize in the newsletter is that managing research computing teams is a profession in and of itself, and worth doing well. Part of that is emphasizing the existence of career opportunities. So since the beginning I’ve included job listings and maintained a job board, posting about 500 such jobs over the past 10 months and removing them as they become filled...

Continue...

White Managers in Research Computing, We Need to be Speaking Out About Racism, then Listening and Advocating

Many people in our research computing community — and in the broader research community we serve — are in pain this week. There’s another video of another Black man, George Floyd, begging for his life while being murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis. Here in Toronto a Black woman, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, died when what should have been a routine call resulted in a mystifying number of police officers showing up. With only police officers present in her apartment, she went over her high-rise balcony...

Continue...

COBOL, Imperial College, Bursty Maintenance, and Sustained Scientific Software

We’ve all read about the huge rise in unemployment claims causing unprecedented loads on US state software systems, with the situation so dire that the governor of New Jersey put out an urgent call for COBOL programmers. It’s worth looking at this from the point of view of research software, where we need software to be sustainable and reproducible for long periods of time. The systems that need suddenly need COBOL developers have often been chugging away with maintenance and tweaks for 40–50 years. This...

Continue...

How To Quickly Start One-on-Ones with your Research Computing Team: A One-Week Plan of Action

Research computing teams around the world are finding themselves working completely remotely suddenly. As a manager, you’ve gotten over the first hump and made sure everyone has the tools they need - software, VPN access, accounts on whatever chat and videoconferencing tools you’ll need. Now what? We all know that remote teams need more communication than on-site teams, so you’ll need to start communicating more. This is a perfect time to start doing one-on-ones if you haven’t been doing them already. What follows is a...

Continue...

The Purpose of Research Computing is the Research, not the Computing

Absolutely everyone in research computing will agree that supporting research is their centre’s highest goal. And they’re not lying, but at many centres I’ve visited, they aren’t really correct, either. The day-to-day work in such a centre, naturally enough, is all about technical operations - keeping the computers running, updating software, making sure /scratch has enough space free, answering emails. And of course, it has to be. But without internal champions actively and continually turning the focus back to the purpose of those activities -...

Continue...

Computational Science Collaborations Train Great Managers - But Trainees Might Need Help To Become Good Managers First

What I write below likely applies to fields of theoretical and observational science that involve collaborations, too. I think the experiences that trainees in laboratory science are likely significantly different, as are those people who spent a large amount of time working in a single group in a well-defined large project. I’d certainly like to hear from colleagues from those areas; are there similarities, or are things quite different? We don’t like to talk about it much, but the natural career path in academia -...

Continue...
-->