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Research Applications Specialist

IT Services

Birmingham, United Kingdom


  • Posted on: 24th Jan 2022
  • Salary: £31,406 to £40,927, with potential progression once in post to £43,434
  • REF: 95213
  • Closes: 28th February 2022
  • Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
  • Hours: Full Time


The Birmingham Environment for Academic Research (BEAR) delivers a broad range of computing services to enable world-class research. Focused on the application layer, the post holder will contribute to initiatives in all areas of service innovation and delivery (including HPC, HTC, data analytics, image rendering and visualisation) enabling researchers to fully exploit the compute power of BEAR. The services support research across the entire spectrum of academic endeavour at Birmingham from Music to Medicine, Computer Science to Theology, Physics to English, Economics to Climatology.

BEAR uses complex, large-scale architectures based on Unix, Linux, Openstack and enterprise class storage infrastructures. These need to be configured and maintained to the highest standards of reliability, performance and quality. Business continuity and high service levels are demanded for mission-critical corporate services and for those supporting the core activities of research, teaching and learning.

The needs of researchers at a broad-based institution like Birmingham are necessarily hugely varied, often novel and frequently complex as are the systems and solutions required. Supporting researchers’ needs and being responsive to them are fundamental to this post.

BEAR has grown to provide a rich set of capabilities to cater for a wide range of disciplines and the ever evolving computing needs of our creative and ambitious research community. Our installed base of research applications may well be the richest in the sector and are available on BEAR Cloud VMs and for batch processing in BlueBEAR (our HPC system) and on the BEAR Portal. Individuals working in the Research Computing Team need to be resourceful, innovative and attuned to the research process.

Job Summary

The Research Computing Applications Specialist plays a central role in the Research Software Group, focused on building and providing core support for the rich and diverse range of advanced applications in BEAR for the University of Birmingham’s research community.

Main duties

  • Deployment, maintenance and support of research software on the BEAR platforms, including specialist HPC applications, Open Source codes and commercial software
  • Maintenance of the tools required to manage, license, maintain and deploy the software efficiently
  • Respond to application related user tickets and troubleshoot incidents and problems, in collaboration with both researchers and with infrastructure colleagues.
  • Supporting training and outreach activity to enable exploitation of these applications
  • Maintenance of the associated user and technical documentation
  • Assist with associated Licence administration
  • In conjunction with the Research Software Group, develop and maintain the tools and skills to automate or otherwise improve the processes around the management and maintenance of our rich and diverse set of research applications.
  • Advise for the team and researchers on related licence queries and ensure BEAR usage adheres to the licensing models of installed applications and components.
  • Join the BEAR Triage Team, taking responsibility on duty days for triaging all Team tickets effectively to enable resolution of all issues in a timely way.
  • Write, source and maintain appropriate and accessible documentation to support services.
  • Liaise with suppliers in relation to the software requirements of supported research groups and their inter-operation with BEAR.
  • Provide central expertise on research software which may be called upon by other departments within the University.
  • Where possible, assist with wider Research Software Group goals and tasks as required.
  • Support and promote the BEAR services, managed by the Advanced Research Computing Team and assist researchers and research groups to utilize the service effectively.
  • Undertake other such duties as may be required from time to time in furtherance of the work of IT Services

Person Specification

  • Formal education to degree level or equivalent.
  • Experience in a relevant/related computing role is essential and must include compiling and supporting a range of complex software on Linux (ideally in an HPC environment).
  • Experience of working with compiler tool chains and software library dependencies
  • Proven scripting skills in an appropriate language, such as Bash or Python Experience and demonstrable competence using Linux and associated software applications.
  • Demonstrated ability to solve complex problems
  • Experience with managing licences would be an advantage
  • Familiarity with software curation, revision control systems and development environments
  • Experience of producing accessible (meaning accessible to someone with little knowledge of your discipline), technical documentation (or similar)
  • Proven ability to work as part of a team
  • Proven ability to build constructive relationships with customers (or similar)
  • A self-motivated learner with a track record of continually updating skills
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and oral
  • Knowledge of Higher Education, Research and its environment is desirable
  • Familiarity with ITIL would be advantageous

Informal enquiries to Andrew Edmmondson, email: a.c.edmondson@bham.ac.uk

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We value diversity and inclusion at the University of Birmingham and welcome applications from all sections of the community and are open to discussions around all forms of flexible working.

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