Insight into the Eclipse Science Working Group
Dr. Philip Wenig on the power of community convergence, and why open source and science make the perfect pairing.
Diana Kupfer meets Dr. Phillip Wenig, member of the Eclipse Science Workgroup, to talk about the powerful things that happen when open source meets science. This interview was originally published in German in Eclipse Magazin.
JAX: When and how did the idea for the Eclipse Science WG originate?
Wenig: The idea was around for a long time. Andy Gotz, Ola Spjuth, Alun Ashton and others had this idea several years ago. Eventually, Philip Wenig met Ralph Müller at the CeBIT in Hanover, 2012 and tried to convince him starting an Eclipse Science WG.
After having a look at all the available RCP projects with scientific scope, Ralph took it forward within the Eclipse Foundation. Several projects exist since then in different areas of scientific research, ranging from physics over biology to chemistry. We had our first meeting at the University of Hamburg in the beginning of July, 2012. Then a couple of meetings followed at diverse EclipseCon’s around the world. Finally, we started writing a charter at the EclipseCon 2013 in Ludwigsburg, Germany.
Meanwhile, Andrew Ross was chosen as the official Science WG representative by the Eclipse Foundation and the Diamond Light Source took responsibility to push the working group forward. At the same time, a logo contest was started and a web page created. After passing the review stage, the Science Working Group was announced officially at 4th of June 2014. It was a nice coincidence that the announcement of the working groups start fell together with the first official working group meeting, held at Diamond Light Source, UK.
Why do you think there is a need for such an inititative?
It’s just a justification for us travelling around the world spending time in indian restaurants and trinking good old english ale! Joking aside, research institutes and companies who would prefer not to re-invent scientific libraries require a place to find and share this kind of software.
Moreover, individuals who are writing their masters or Ph.D. thesis as well as postdocs with interesting projects and software skills would benefit from the group. We want to make tools reusable in the scientific space by defining one or more areas on which to collaborate. The hope is that serendipitous discoveries can be made by applying tools created for one technique in an entirely unexpected way, in another area. One example is the peak fitting algorithms which different members of the group are working on.
What is your personal motivation for creating this group?
Open source and science are a dream team, no doubt. Scientists need to have the freedom to tinker and the flexibility to modify things in an unexpected way. Additionally, software becomes more and more important in scientific research. That’s why open source is a good fit because it offers the flexibility scientists need. New ideas happen on the shoulders of giants and new ideas can be made to work when existing tools are modified or are recombined.
Who is already involved?
Diamond Light Source, UK
UT-Battelle (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), USA
University of Uppsala, Sweden
Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, USA
Lablicate UG, Germany
Kichwa Coders, UK
Clemson University, USA
What types of companies and individuals (i.e. from what industries/research areas) do you work with?
Companies, institutes and individuals from different scientific research areas are welcome.
What are the next steps now that the WG been formally created. ?
Convincing more companies, institutions and individuals to join the working group. The participants have just begun to write and push project proposals to migrate their existing projects to the Eclipse Foundation.
When are your next meet-ups?
The next meetings will be held at the EclipseCon France, 2014 Toulouse or the EclipseCon Europe Germany, 2014 Ludwigsburg.
What’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Join the mailing list, ask questions and get in contact with its participants: https://dev.eclipse.org/mailman/listinfo/science-iwg
Or directly call or mail Andrew Ross:firstname.lastname@example.org