Research Software Engineer job with DURHAM UNIVERSITY

Advanced Research Computing

Grade 7: – £34,304 – £40,927 per annum

Fixed Term – Full Time

Contracted Hours per Week: 35

Closing Date: 29-Jul-2022, 6:59:00 AM

The Department and role purpose

This position is within the Directorate of Advanced Research Computing (ARC) at Durham University.  We are particularly keen to receive applications from Software Engineers with a background or an interest in a Chemistry based domain.

ARC provides a focal point for a broad computational capability that underpins and helps define the nature of research and innovation that can be undertaken with the institution.

ARC’s mission is to deliver a coherent strategy for the computational support of for research: enabling research and innovation to be at the forefront of computational practice; enabling academic leadership through the adoption and evolution of leading technology; fostering associated expertise; and enhancing interdisciplinary collaborations. Leading-edge platforms including High Performance Computing, computational and cutting-edge data analytics methods, and growth and retention of vital capacity in research software engineering and technical R&D are at the core of this endeavour.

As a part of a team of Research Software Engineers you will be working as an integral part of the ARC operation providing a critical role for delivery of this significant, strategic University-wide initiative, requiring a collaborative ‘member of research team’ approach, commensurate with the University’s global research aspirations.

For this particular role the candidate will be working on a specific project on Quantum Crystallography:

  • Quantum Crystallography (QCr) proposes an exciting new approach to more accurate molecular structures from diffraction data and linking quantum mechanical codes to compute important associated properties. Currently, these stand-alone QM codes reside with experts and QCr aims to bring these together seamlessly with established crystallographic software, thereby enabling a much wider user base who wish to exploit the power of QM.
  • We will follow the Phenix model (, using established standards in an integrated C++/Python environment to support a range of workflows. Established user-friendly front-end tools will provide a facile route to numerous more complex codes. Olex2, software for chemical crystallography has a global reach (80K users) and it has been able to implement selected QCr code. We propose it becomes the ‘kernel’ for the workbench.
  • Research Software Engineers (RSE) at Southampton & Durham will develop the platform, assemble known and new QCr components and combine all diverse codes into a user-friendly workbench.

The post-holder is expected to develop and draw upon deep technical and appropriate domain knowledge to ensure the project objectives are achieved. In addition the post holder will form strong collegiate research relationships with academics at all levels across the organisation. The post holder will provide specialist knowledge to colleagues within the research community, and effective knowledge transfer both across the institution and externally and share their current state of practice with the national RSE community.

As a support unit that spans all Faculties across the University, we encourage applications from experienced individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds and domains. ARC encourages flexible working and welcomes applications from candidates wanting to be part time or part of a job share arrangement.

Please note that this position is categorised within Durham University Job Family details of the family are attached as an appendix for your information

Core responsibilities:

  • Professional practitioner in Research Software Engineering.
  • Implement changes to the design and development of processes, techniques and deliverables for multiple research project streams.
  • Provide specialist expertise and support with complexity of data and information sources, workflow, interpretation and analysis.
  • Contribute to development of operational activities to ensure excellence in the stakeholder experience.
  • Collect and analyse stakeholder feedback to help define needs and requirements and the design and planning of ARC.
  • Internal and external relationship development and partnership working, networking and participation to engage and influence future services and the University reputation.
  • Identify and design activities to meet research objectives and outcomes.
  • Deliver training, teaching and/or development delivery for stakeholders.
  • Maintain an awareness of current policy for University business goals such as widening participation and access, and provision of advice using specialist knowledge.
  • Contribute to business meetings, working groups and sub-committees across the Organisation.

Role responsibilities:

  • Software development to meet the specific requirements of the quantum crystallography project
  • Provide day-to-day management of own workload for the delivery of a high-quality Research Software Engineering to ensure research and knowledge exchange outputs.
  • Collaborate with internal and external academics, industry and technical specialists to support the delivery of research projects, contributing to the generation of external income.
  • Work in collaboration with academic colleagues across the institution and take responsibility for the design, production, set-up, maintenance and integrity of code, technical frameworks, user interfaces, and other technologies/resources within ARC.
  • Provide specialist technical problem-solving advice to inform research activity and project planning, continuous improvement and service development.
  • Provide guidance and advice on compliance issues in specialist areas.
  • Supervise during workshops, practical and test teaching, learning and research activities.
  • Provide support to ensure the delivery of postgraduate and Staff training.
  • Develop, modify and optimise protocols and methodologies, including code review and issue tracking processes and tools.
  • Contribute to the planning, design and delivery of research outputs, including research papers, project reports, case studies and code documentation manuals, and prepare innovative teaching/research proposals.
  • Contribute to the broader community of Practice for Research Software Engineers, acting as a key point of reference to the community within area of specialism.
  • Rapidly assimilate research context and understand the computational and data analytics algorithms, requirements and interfaces involved in a research programming project.
  • Undertake development work to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the software on University and other computing platforms
  • Contribute to promotional events and presentations at conferences.
  • Liaise with internal and external agencies, local authorities, industries and visitors where appropriate.
  • Monitoring and updating risk assessments and safety procedures, providing guidance to others where necessary.
  • Any other reasonable duties.

Specific role requirements

  • Willingness to work out of the office, to travel nationally and internationally.
  • Willingness to work outside of normal office hours, as appropriate.

Recruiting to this post

In order to be considered for interview, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification above. You may also wish to refer to the optional ‘Realising Your Potential Approach’ section. In some cases, the recruiting panel may also consider the desirable criteria, so we recommend you evidence all criteria in your application.

Please not that some criteria will only be considered at the interview stage.

How to apply

We prefer to receive applications online.

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.

What you are required to submit

  1. A CV; 
  2. A covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;
  3. A word document, with examples of how you satisfy the person specification.  Please ensure you give detailed examples of how you meet these criteria

Please ensure that you submit all documentation listed above or your application cannot proceed to the next stage.

Contact details

For further information please contact:

Dr Alan Real, Director ARC [email protected]

Ed Ruck-Keene, Business Development and RSE Manager [email protected]

Rebecca Appleby, ARC Administrator [email protected] 

At Durham University, our aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

We will notify you on the status of your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to ensure you receive all emails.

Job Family: Technical, Research and Teaching Service

OUR CHARACTERISTICS: We are welcoming, collegiate and inclusive.

OUR VALUES: We are motivated, inquisitive, challenging, rigorous and innovative

Durham University is one of the world’s top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people’s lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

It is expected that all staff within the University:

  • Contribute to our learning culture by engaging in mentoring, training and coaching.
  • Positively contribute to fostering a collegial environment; as well as demonstrating commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Have due regard to Health and Safety requirements appropriate to grade and role.

Family key attributes

Roles in this family provide creative and analytical input to facilitate the delivery of world-class teaching, learning and research activities.

Overall family purpose

  • Support stakeholders to ensure the delivery of research, teaching and scholarly activities.
  • Align and tailor services to meet strategic and operational research, teaching and learning objectives.
  • Prepare and set-up equipment, apparatus and resources to ensure the successful delivery of scheduled academic activities.
  • Monitor, manage and maintain teaching, learning or research facilities, workshops, laboratories and experimental environments to ensure compliance with internal and external regulations.
  • Contribute guidance, advice and/or professional expertise to increase intellectual and creative capacity for world-class teaching and research outputs.
  • Actively participate with peers and specialists internally and externally to expand knowledge and practice.
  • Design and construct equipment, environments, tools, techniques and methodologies to meet research and learning objectives.
  • Adapt and develop equipment, techniques and methodologies to meet research and learning outputs and timescales.
  • Engage and network with internal and external specialists and experts to facilitate knowledge exchange and enhance research, teaching and learning activities.
  • Work collaboratively and network across the University with staff in other families to ensure a smooth, timely and high-quality delivery of service.

Link to key strategic plan

  • An economically sustainable approach to delivering technical and experimental support services across the University;
  • Support and facilitate world-leading research across all academic departments;
  • Support and facilitate research that has a positive impact on global, national and regional challenges and which benefits culture, society, health, the economy and the physical environment;
  • Support and facilitate a rewarding research environment and an exceptional research-led learning experience;
  • Support and facilitate programmes that offer intellectual challenge, cohesiveness and a strong sense of progression;
  • A stakeholder-focused orientation, offering satisfying careers to all staff;
  • Ensure that an increasingly diverse workforce is treated equally, fairly and with respect, and that all staff are demonstrably valued and actively engaged.

Person specification – skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required

Essential Criteria

  1. Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to develop excellent working relationships both internally and externally. 
  2. Educated to degree level (or equivalent experience) in a computing or related/applied discipline.
  3. Proven advanced IT skills, commensurate with the role.
  4. Ability to rapidly assimilate the research context and understanding the computational and data analytics algorithms, requirements and interfaces involved in research programming projects.
  5. Ability to rapidly acquire fluent knowledge of new programming languages, libraries and platforms. Advanced skills in the use of languages for numerically-intensive research and data analysis e.g. Fortran, C++, Python, and R.
  6. Knowledge of and commitment to software development best practice, such as issue tracking, testing, documentation, version control, continuous integration, software re-use and deployment. Knowledge of and experience with object-oriented design, design patterns and refactoring.
  7. Continuing professional development required to maintain professional recognition. Desire to keep up-to-date and learn about new developments in computational research and an understanding of the landscape of research computing and research programming in the UK and internationally.
  8. Ability to solve problems and resolve issues, plan solutions and make pragmatic decisions. Experience of analysing, researching and solving complex programming problems.

Desirable Criteria

  • Masters / PhD in a relevant discipline (or equivalent experience).
  • Demonstrable experience of managing own time and working on multiple projects
  • Experience of working independently as well as part of a team 
  • Specific domain knowledge in Quantum Crystallography or a related field.
  • Professional practitioner with specialist knowledge and expertise used to influence service delivery and activities within the organisation.  Experience of HPC and the completion of significant work using one or more of these technologies would be desirable:
  • Shared and distributed memory programming tools) (e.g. OpenMP, MPI, CUDA)
  • CMake and other build and installation management tools
  • Serial and parallel debugging and profiling
  • Parallel numerical algorithms and libraries
  • Cloud computing and virtualization, containerization, Docker
  • Knowledge and expertise in multiple areas of technical specialism, and the application of advanced skills to create, build, construct, analyse and realise new and innovative resources, equipment and research outputs.
  • Experience of teaching/research project working within an educational, commercial or industrial environment.
  • Demonstrable ability to teach or train others with specific technical skills, and the operation of standard and complex scientific, technical and creative equipment.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.