February newsletter

Issue No. 26
February 2016

eResearch NZ 2016

This year's eResearch NZ conference, co-hosted in Queenstown from February 9 by New Zealand's eInfrastructure organisations NeSI, NZGL and REANNZ, was a great success with over 120 attendees from around the country and international guests from as far as the University of Chicago and the University of Houston.

Delegates came together to share national and international experience in eResearch, and highlight current and emerging eResearch trends. Photos and notes from the event can be found here, and videos of the plenary sessions and presentation slides will be made available too.
Planning for eResearch NZ 2017 is already underway with confirmed dates and the venue of Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown booked for the 20th to the 22nd of February 2017. We hope to see you there!

Twenty new Software Carpentry Instructors are ready to go!

At the end of January twenty new Software Carpentry Instructors were trained up in Auckland by Aleksandra Pawlik from the Software Sustainability Institute in the UK. The training was spread over two days with attendees learning about everything from cognitive load theory, to live coding, to a rather intense Dragons' Den.

The team is now armed and ready to deliver Software Carpentry Workshops back at their own institution or in their own region. If you want to learn more about the Software Carpentry Programme in New Zealand, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Georgina Rae from NeSI.

Image credit: Dion Henare

ResBaz takes New Zealand by storm

In the first week of February, ResBaz (Research Bazaar) events took place in cities around the world, including Auckland and Dunedin in New Zealand. Not your traditional conference, ResBaz is a worldwide festival promoting digital literacy. The aim of ResBaz is to equip researchers with the digital skills and tools required to do their research better, faster and smarter.

NeSI was involved in both the Auckland and Dunedin events, helping out with Software Carpentry modules, participating in some of the ‘unconference’, i.e. attendee requested, sessions and indulging in the great vibe that our local organisers created – Mr Whippy even paid a visit to the Auckland event! You can see more about what happened at RezBaz here. Thanks to all those involved – NeSI loved being able to participate.

For those who missed out this time, Wellington is hot on the heels of Auckland and Dunedin with an event being planned for April this year – watch this space!

Valentine's Day earthquake for Christchurch

The Canterbury region is sadly under pressure again after the Valentine’s Day earthquake and subsequent tremors. Fortunately these recent quakes caused much less damage than the catastrophic events of five years ago, however they still provide valuable seismic data for our colleagues at QuakeCoRE (the Centre of Research Excellence for New Zealand's leading Earthquake Resilience Researchers), who were straight back in the lab feeding the latest information into their models. A simulation of the magnitude 5.8 earthquake was performed by the Bradley research group at the University of Canterbury using NeSI’s BlueGeneP supercomputer. You can check out the simulation here.

Case Study: Quantum trajectories: a story of qubits and photons

Victor Canela is using NeSI to help answer the question: how do we get from A to B, when we don’t even know where B is?

For many, the theoretical physics question Canela is pursuing is a challenging concept, however the applications or perhaps implications of the research potentially have wide-ranging effect. Read more.

Our Land and Water National Science Challenge launched

Research and testing facilities image [credit: Chris Williams].

The Our Land and Water National Science Challenge was launched in Wellington on January 26.

Our Land and Water – Toitū te Whenua, Toiora te Wai – will focus on research to enhance primary sector production and productivity while maintaining and improving our land and water quality for future generations.

Hosted by AgResearch, it involves CRI research partners ESR, GNS Science, Landcare Research, NIWA, Plant and Food Research, and Scion, and five universities and affiliates – the University of Auckland, Lincoln Agritech, Lincoln University, Massey University and the University of Waikato.

The Challenge is the ninth of 11 National Science Challenges designed to tackle the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand. The Our Land and Water Challenge will receive funding of up to $96.9 million over ten years.

For more information about the National Science Challenges, visit the National Science Challenges section on MBIE's website.

Case Study: Searching for Earth-mass planets around Alpha Centauri

"We were able to calculate radial velocities for all our 50,000 observations within about a week – a task that would have otherwise taken several months of computational time."

Researchers at the University of Canterbury have been conducting an intensive observational campaign with the aim of detecting Earth-mass planets in our closest neighbouring star system – the binary stars of Alpha Centauri – including those which may lie within the respective habitable zones around either star. Read more.

What next for supercomputing and problem solving?

As the performance of computer technology becomes faster and more energy efficient, what are the possibilities for harnessing its processing power and applying it to problem solving? Listen to Kathryn Ryan's fascinating interview with Prof. John Gustafson, inventor of Gustafson's Law and former Director at Intel Labs, who was in New Zealand this week to attend Multicore World 2016 in Wellington.

Ruan Malan joins team NeSI

Ruan Malan has joined team NeSI as a Solutions Architect and Systems Integrator based at NIWA in Wellington. We asked Ruan to share a bit about himself:

"Hi everyone, my name is Ruan and I started at NIWA for NESI in December to contribute to the integration and collaboration around the national supercomputer infrastructure as a Solutions Architect. My background is in commercial IT in diverse industries, mostly around integration and portals. My family and I came over from South Africa four years ago to set down roots here, and we are appreciating the safe community living and intact natural environment, and all the efforts to help effectively preserve it. 
In my free time I enjoy moving around New Zealand on a motorcycle, attempts at mindfulness meditation, playing classical guitar, realtime strategy games, reading on contemporary history, and figuring out what is happening in the ever fascinating and changing world of our teenage daughters. I am excited to become part of this community and am enjoying meeting people here, am hoping to keep doing much more of that."

Welcome Ruan!

Access NeSI's HPC platforms

All New Zealand researchers are invited to apply for access to New Zealand’s largest research computers. This call runs from Monday March 7 to Friday March 18.

NeSI's Access Policy outlines the terms and conditions for applying and how access is allocated. To better support New Zealand's researchers, allocations of CPU core hours for Merit, Postgraduate and Proposal Development projects are provided at no cost.

NeSI vacancies

NeSI is currently seeking a superstar part-time Operations Administrator. This role will be based at the University of Auckland and will be responsible for day-to-day administrative support of the team. Applications close March 6.

We are also seeking an amazing Applications Support Specialist, based full-time at the University of Otago. You will spend your time supporting research teams and providing assistance with compiling, deploying and tuning their scientific applications on one of NeSI’s HPC platforms, and you will help support the NeSI Service Desk function to resolve incidents or service requests. You may also assist with NeSI workshops and training events. Applications for this role close on March 3.

Recent research outputs

We are always interested in hearing about research outputs generated with the help of NeSI. To notify NeSI of upcoming publications, please email pubs@nesi.org.nz. If you would like to be kept up to date with research outputs as NeSI includes them, please join our Mendeley Group.

Have a question?

If you would like to ask anything, please email us support@nesi.org.nz