Who do we work with?
The Software Sustainability Institute works with a range of projects - tackling everything from library searches to nuclear fusion.
Enhancing agricultural productivity - SynthSys
Plants provide all of our food and a significant proportion of our fuel and industrial raw materials via the process of photosynthesis. Understanding photosynthesis is one of the keys to improving agricultural productivity to meet the rising demands of an increasing population and the linked problems of decreasing fossil fuel availability and rapid, detrimental climate change. With these aims in mind, SynthSys at the University of Edinburgh perform research into genetic and chemical regulation in biological systems. SynthSys uses cutting-edge approaches, including complex research software platforms like the Systems Biology Software Infrastructure (SBSI). The Software Sustainability Institute is helping SynthSys develop SBSI to meet new challenges in data analaysis.
Generating neutrinos - MAUS
Neutrinos are particles produced in highly energetic processes, like those that occur in the sun, nuclear reactors or the big bang. Neutrinos interact only very weakly with other matter (they can pass through the Earth even easier than light passes though glass). This means that a neutrino experiment needs to use huge quantities of neutrinos to ensure that enough interactions will occur to produce results. The MICE collaboration, with some help from the Software Sustainability Institute, will design a crucial part of a neutrino factory, which will create neutrinos in the vast quantities needed.
Making HPC accessible - SPRINT
SPRINT provides easy access to high-performance computing for the analysis of high-throughput, post-genomic data using the statistical programming language R. The Software Sustainability Institute are helping SPRINT to improve their user engagement and provide improved resources and support. Our developers are working with teams from SPRINT, the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and the Centre for Cardiovascular Research to add functionality to SPRINT and R to enable the processing of next-generation sequencing data.
Textual studies - TEXTvre
TEXTvre supports the complete lifecycle of research in e-Humanities textual studies. The project provides researchers with advanced services to process and analyse research texts that are held in formally managed, metadata-rich institutional repositories. The access and analysis of textual research data will be supported by annotation and retrieval technology and will provide services for every step in the digital research life cycle.
National e-Infrastructure - NGS and SARoNGS
One of the key features of a national e-infrastructure is the ability for users to authenticate with all computing resources once and once only - a so-called single sign-on. The JISC-funded, SARoNGS project created a single sign-on service for the UK National Grid Service (NGS), based on the Shibboleth security framework. The NGS delivers e-infrastructure to support academic research across all higher education institutes in the UK.
Maintaining distributed IT security infrastructure is a challening business, and sometimes things don't quite work the way they're intended. In these situations, a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference in tracking down obscure configuration errors. A team from the Institute went under the hood of the NGS to track down and fix a problem that prevented jobs from running on NGS systems if a SARoNGS security proxy was used.
Read more about this work in this post by the NGS's Jason Lander.
Nuclear Fusion - Culham Centre for Fusion Energy
Nuclear fusion, the process that powers the Sun, promises abundant and carbon-free energy.
The Culham Centre is a world-leading fusion research laboratory, and a major user of the GS2 gyrokinetic turbulence simulator which models conditions in a fusion reactor. SSI have worked with Culham to take the many different visualisation extensions for GS2 and create an enhanced visualiser based on the open-source Paraview platform. This visualiser will be easy for Culham to maintain on behalf of the fusion research community.
Pharmacology - DMACRYS
In pharmaceutical chemistry, determining a drug's molecular crystal structure is critical.
Sally Price's Research Group at UCL has developed DMACRYS - software that simulates the likely crystal structures an organic molecule can adopt. We are helping to improve DMACRYS's sustainability by increasing its portability and upgrading its testing and development infrastructure.
Climate change - Enhancing Community Integrated Assessment System for Climate Policy
Policymakers could gain increased confidence in climate-change predictions if existing, disparate climate models are unified.
We are working with the ECIAS project to add more sophisticated modelling to a unified climate model so that more factors can contribute to the model’s predictions. We are also adding batch processing, which will allow many users to simultaneously query the climate model, and a new search interface, which will allow easy analysis of previous results.
Geospatial Information - Geospatial transformations with OGSA-DAI
Combining different sources of geospatial information can help identify crime hotspots, design better bus routes and improve the response to national emergencies.
GeoTOD will transform geospatial information into a linked-data form, enabling environmental and other data to become part of the linked-data web, and contributing to the UK Government's Location Strategy.
SSI provided consultancy in the use of OGSA-DAI to develop GeoTOD’s data-linking platform.
Making software accessible - Brain Research Imaging Centre
The Brain Research Imaging Centre (BRIC) is based at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh. BRIC researchers use a wide variety of medical imaging techniques to better understand psychiatric disorders and diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, stroke and prion diseases (BSE/CJD). Many applications for medical image processing and analysis have been developed at BRIC. The wider adoption of these applications could advance our knowledge of the brain and its function, so BRIC are releasing the applications to the wider imaging community.
The Software Sustainability Institute has worked with BRIC to enhance two of their applications, assisting BRIC researchers in moving development to open source projects at SourceForge.
Keeping up to date with research - JournalTOCs
It is vital for researchers to keep completely up to date with the latest results from their discipline. This leads to new contacts and new opportunities for collaboration, which can lead to new projects and more funding. If nothing else, knowing what’s going on in their field allows researchers to ensure their own research is novel. With the bewildering number of ways in which researchers can now communicate – e-mails, blogs, RSS, Facebook, Twitter – tools are needed to help researchers hack through this jungle of communication to find the relevant information.
Supporting the metadata needs of large-scale scientific facilities - ICAT
Before being shared with large-scale scientific facilities from around the world, the Software Sustainability Institute was asked to assess important data cataloguing software.
Large-scale scientific facilities generate huge amounts of data, and cataloguing that data is a major task. For this reason, the STFC eScience team created software called ICAT, which catalogues metadata for the DIAMOND Synchrotron, the ISIS pulsed neutron and muon source and the Central Laser Facility - all at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory; and for the Spallation Neutron Source in the US and ELLETRA in Italy.
There had been a lot of interest in ICAT from other facilities in Europe, so the team at STFC wanted to make sure that the software was ready to be shared with others. The Institute worked closely with the STFC eScience team and its collaborators to assess the entire ICAT project, and recommend improvements to the structural, collaborative and development processes that will ensure the software's successful development and sustained use.
Creating an ontology for software - SWOP
The Institute provides its advice and expertise to the Software Ontology Project (SWOP) project's goal of creating an ontology of software, and the tools and techniques used to support the capture of this information by non-ontologists.
SWOP's ontological resource for describing software tools, their types, tasks, versions, provenance and the data associated with them. This work is part of an inter-disciplinary effort to capture software descriptions used in the preservation of data.
Last updated: Tuesday 8 May 2012.