Nooriyah Lohani appointed to new Steering Committee supporting Research Software Engineer (RSE) communities in NZ & Australia

For more than a year, Nooriyah Lohani, NeSI's Research Community Advisor, has been collaborating with Research Software Engineer (RSE) community leaders in New Zealand and Australia to create new opportunities for RSEs to meet, exchange knowledge, and collaborate on methods to create greater recognition and career opportunities.

What is a Research Software Engineer? Within academia, there are a growing number of people who combine expertise in programming with an intricate understanding of research. Although this combination of skills is extremely valuable, these people lack a formal place in the academic system. This means there is no easy way to recognise their contribution, to reward them, or to represent their views. 

This month, Nooriyah was announced as one of six inaugural members of a new Steering Committee created to guide and better support the RSE communities in New Zealand and Australia. 

Enabling RSEs to be recognised for their contributions in all areas of research was a key reason why Nooriyah says she wanted to get involved. 

"I would like to create stronger relationships with RSE communities in other countries to learn from and contribute to the local and global community," she said. "While creating strategic direction is important, I would like to convert conversations into actionable tasks to enable the community to achieve goals."

The new Steering Committee includes:

  • Nooriyah Poonawala Lohani
  • Manodeep Sinha
  • Justin Baker
  • Heidi Perrett
  • Daniel Collins
  • Nicholas May

You can read each of their nomination statements here

Nooriyah has been part of the interim RSE steering committee for more than a year, working with other committee members to contribute to RSE community events (i.e. RSE Workshop at eResearch Australasia 2018, RSE Birds-of-a-Feather at eResearch NZ, etc.). As part of that work, she has participated in interim steering committee meetings, worked with Australian and UK representatives to coordinate the NZ chapter of the International RSE Survey, and she analysed and presented the NZ findings of this survey (ARDC Tech talk, eResearch NZ 2019, Science Coding Conference 2019).

Supporting more diversity and inclusion within the RSE communities is also important to Nooriyah, who cites the following quote from The Inclusion Toolbox as a key motivator: "Inclusion works to the advantage of everyone. We all have things to learn and we all have something to teach." 

"This quote was written in a book that talked about implementing research-based strategies to create more inclusive education programs. Strategies such as these can be implemented in most scenarios, including building our RSE community," Nooriyah says. "Diversity can come in many forms and taking it into account can make sure our community is a space for growth, learning, support, opportunity and this will ensure its sustainability."

Through her role at NeSI, and her current PhD work that is looking at using machine learning models to predict influenza epidemics and pandemics in New Zealand, Nooriyah hopes to contribute to the Steering Committee's work by:

  • delivering training programs (such as Carpentries workshops)
  • keeping communities engaged
  • understanding community requirements
  • working together with community leaders to achieve goals that are set as a community

For more information on the work being done by Nooriyah and others in the NZ & Australian RSE community, visit the RSE-AUNZ website to learn more and join the email group.