James Grant

Research Software Engineer, University of Bath.
Email: rjg20@bath.ac.uk


In September 2017 I was appointed to a new role as the first centrally funded Research Software Engineer (RSE) position at the University of Bath. The purpose of this position is twofold:
  • support research software development at University of Bath
  • provide RSE support to researchers using the regional Tier-2 HPC, Isambard
The main activities I engage in are:
  1. Postgraduate and researcher training (group and individual)
  2. Working with researchers on collaborations to develop research software
  3. Helping researchers to port/optimise codes for HPC
  4. Support existing RSEs working on projects across the University
As a central RSE my job is to support your research. My aim is not to tell you how should be writing your software, but try to identify and provide or suggest training, advise and suggest tools or methods that will help you to achieve your goals. If you have a larger project requiring software development then I am also keen to collaborate with you to develop your application (in both senses).

The reality of supporting research software development across an institution is a great challenge but has been a fantastic journey so far and he pleasure of contributing to research in disciplines old and new as well as supporting the careers of fellow RSEs is a massive motivation for me. If you would like to chat informally drop me an email.


A great deal of effort went into coming up with the title Research Software Engineer, and the key point is that it includes the word research. As such we have a background in research as well as software engineering and this remains a key part of our role. My own research background is in compuational physics and material science and I am interested in problems of phase stability in organic and inorganic materials particularly in association with interfaces/defects.

I co-supervised William Saunders with Dr Eike Muller (Mathematical Sciences) developing a Domain Specific Language for Performance Portable Molecular Simulation and Analysis. Will graduated with his PhD in 2018 and now works with Alison Walker applying the methods he developed to kinetic Monte Carlo for device modelling. I currently co-supervise two PhD students:

  • Megan Stalker who models the dissolution of cellulose potential to complement experimental work at Bath.
  • Calum Hand who applies Machine Learning and informatics techinques to advance material discovery


My publications can be found in the Unversity Research Portal

Research Software Engineering

The national and international RSE community is great fun and incredibly welcoming. The UK has been at the forefront of the development of the role running its fourth annual conference and the launching the Society of Research Software Engineeringi in 2019. The role is rapidly growing in recognition and seeing investment from both institutions and funding bodies. With the advancement of Open Science, encouragement to open source code and ensure the reproducibility of research analysis, the need to improve our skills and practices across the board will only grow, alongside the importance and value of RSEs.

Am I an RSE?

But you may well be asking what is an RSE and am I one? The best place to find out what an RSE is and how the movement to support them has developed, is to visit UKRSE or the Society of Research Software Engineeringi as information migrates to the new organisation's site. Briefly an RSE is anyone primarily or largely involved in developing software as part of their research. With the proliferation of technology across all fields of academia this description no longer refers to computer scientists, a few physicists, mathematicians, and hasn't really for years. The reality is that if you are not an RSE yourself, you probably know one and almost definitely rely on one in your research.

Finally if you find yourself identifying as an RSE and would like to find out more about the role, or just want a chat about life please get in touch.






Links to...
DL_MONTE tutorials
... chemistry dept,
... physics dept,
... main university site

  • Dr. James Grant, Computing Services, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, United Kingdom.
  • Office:4ES 4.12
  • Phone: +44-1225-38-6940
  • Email: r.j.grant@bath.ac.uk

Last updated: September 2017