21 June 2014

A day in the life of eResearch at Griffith

On Thursday our entire eResearch Services and Scholarly Applications Development (eRSAD) team got together for a half-yearly update on our program of work. Because our team of 30+ people is split across three campuses and most of our work is project-based, it's really difficult for any one person to know what's going on. I came away from the day feeling really energised and in awe of all the amazing talent that we have in our team.

The session consisted of a series of short updates on different things people are working on, which could be divided up into three main areas:

  • projects that support data capture, management, analysis and visualisation by particular research groups
  • activities that are more about underpinning infrastructure such as storage, computation, and enterprise tools for managing research impact
  • promotional activities that highlight the work of Griffith researchers and of the eResearch team.  
Some of the projects focused on particular research needs were:

Homepage for the BCCVL
A prototype design for the homepage for the website for the Prosecution Project
  • Redevelopment of the Australian National Corpus (AusNC), which supports linguistics research into Australian English
  • Supporting clinical trials through a randomisation service and through adoption of the RedCAP solution from Vanderbilt University for managing longitudinal health surveys 
  • Successful adoption of the Columbus software (based on the open microscopy OMERO product) for researchers from Griffith's Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery 
  • Also with Eskitis, development work on Nature Bank, a collection of over 45,000 samples of plants and marine invertebrates that have have been processed into a library for high throughput screening.
The work on supporting infrastructure being done by our group includes:
  • Change management associated with new storage services for researchers for release later in 2014 including a Dropbox-like solution (ownCloud) and tools for easier provisioning of network shares (Operations Orchestration)
  • The redevelopment of our institutional data repository and other repositories for library collections, including a streaming server to support multiple repositories for teaching and learning, research, and corporate needs
  • Implementation of Symplectic Elements to support the identification and capture of information about research publications, including metrics and altmetrics
  • A two-year program of enhancements to the award-winning Griffith Research Hub
The homepage of the Griffith Research Hub, which aggregates metadata about Griffith researchers, projects, publications and data collections
  • Development of a more formal approach to software testing using Jenkins, a continuous integration system that runs tests, creates software builds, and help show the status of the builds.
  • Enhancements to our high performance computing services, including building easy-to-use web portals for less tech savvy users, job submission by email, and 'cloudbursting' (shedding computational load to cloud computing resources on demand).
Our Media Production team does high quality audiovisual work for our division (Information Services) as well as for external groups. On Thursday we got to see sneak previews of two videos the team have been working on, one of which was about the Columbus product for Microscopy mentioned above. Unfortunately these videos are not released yet but previous examples of the work of this team can be found in their gallery: I was in one of their videos last year and they made what could have been an excruciating experience into something that was actually quite fun!

Everyone I talked to agreed that having this session together with the team was really helpful, and that we should do something similar with other parts of our Information Services division soon to ensure they are aware of the work that we are doing and can help in promoting our services to researchers.