Javier Díaz Brañas Awarded IoP CPG Thesis Prize

This year’s 2020 IoP CPG Thesis Prize has been awarded to Javier Díaz Brañas, University of Lincoln. Javier’s thesis, titled Computer Simulations of Block Copolymer Nanocomposite Systems, implemented efficient, parallel code to simulate the interaction of nanoparticles in diblock copolymer systems by developing a hybrid-technique based on Cell Dynamic Simulations for the polymers and Brownian Dynamics for the particles. Block copolymer melts can themselves self-assemble into mesoscale soft matter structures, thanks to the connectivity between different segments along these macromolecules. The addition of nanoparticles can induce morphological transitions, resulting in complex co-assembly processes in which a rich variety of structures are formed.

A large-scale simulation result of block copolymers mixed with nanoparticles (a) and an associated detailed view around a single nanoparticle (b)

We look forward to reading more about Javier’s work in the next IoP Computational Physics Group Newsletter. In the meantime, Javier’s thesis is available online.


Banner competition winner announced

The Computational Physics group is pleased to announce that Ilias Konstantinou, a PhD student at Newcastle University, has won our banner image competition with his image of a simulation of blood under a magnetic field. The submission, along with a brief scientific description and acknowledgements of funding can be found here:




Final CPG banner competition extension

The deadline for the CPG Banner competition had been extended to January 31st 2019, midnight GMT as a reminder, terms and conditions can be found here, the hashtag associated with this competition is #CPGbannerCompetition. Please submit images which showcase computational physics to CPGbanner_comp@mail.com along with a 150 word caption understandable by non-experts. Prize values and other terms and conditions remain unchanged.

CPG banner competition extended

The deadline for the CPG Banner competition had been extended to January 1st 2019, as a reminder, terms and conditions can be found here, the hashtag has also been changed to the more accurate #CPGbannerCompetition. Please submit images which showcase computational physics to CPGbanner_comp@mail.com along with a 150 word caption understandable by non-experts. Prize values and other terms and conditions remain unchanged.

CPG banner competition

The computational physics group needs a new banner and we want your help to create it!

Please submit images which showcase computational physics to CPGbanner_comp@mail.com along with a 150 word caption understandable by non-experts. If you aren’t a CPG group member (but are an IoP member) then join — it’s free. Cash prizes will be offered (50 GBP for the first, 25 GBP for the two runner ups). See here for full terms and conditions. Submitters are also encouraged to tweet under #CPGbannerCompetition, but official submissions must be made through email. The competition closes on the 1st of January 2019

Questionnaire on the value of newer Fortran standards

Benefits of continuing Fortran standardisation

If you use Fortran, directly or indirectly, please will you complete this survey:


It has been developed by the committee of the BCS Fortran Group to quantify the value of modern Fortran standards to organisations and individuals.  The results of the survey will help the Group justify continuing involvement in Fortran standardisation efforts.

The results of the survey will be shared with the ISO Fortran standardisation committee, so your responses will help shape the future of the Fortran language.

The survey will run until 31 Dec. 2018.

The Fortran language has been steadily developing since its origins in 1957.  Many people have been working on revising the Fortran specification, resulting in Fortran 77, 90, 95, 2003, 2008 and 2018 standards.  This survey is designed to find out exactly what benefits newer Fortran standards bring to the community.

We would like to know how newer Fortran standards have increased the quality of your code, cut development costs, increased portability or performance of your code, or whether you can attach any monetary value to the benefits enabled by modern Fortran standards.

This questionnaire contains 4 sections.  All questions are optional.  It will take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Anton Shterenlikht, BCS Fortran Standards Officer

Who are research software engineers?

Research relies on software experts

By Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director, Software Sustainability Institute.

Most research would be impossible without software, and this reliance is forcing a rethink of the skills needed in a traditional research group. A survey of 15 Russell Group universities found that 92% of researchers used research software, 67% reported that it was fundamental to their research, and 56% said they developed their own software.

With the emergence of software as the pre-eminent research tool used across all disciplines, comes the realisation that a significant majority of results are based, ultimately, on the skill of the experts who design and build it. Since 2012, a community of these experts has grown around a campaign to raise awareness of the people who build the software used in research. These people have worked under many titles, but many now identify as Research Software Engineers.

The most popular software packages used in research are all, broadly speaking, programming languages. These allow researchers to develop their own programs to solve problems specific to their research. Some of these programs develop into substantial software packages with millions of lines of code, but to concentrate only on these headline-grabbing examples is to overlook the ubiquity of software in research. Millions of pro­grams are used by researchers to analyse and transform their data. These are the real workhorses of research, and without them the vast majority of results could not be produced. Who writes these programs if there is no career path for a software expert in academia?

The established approach to recruiting software expertise is a hotch­potch of different solutions that have been developed to meet the disparate needs of local human resources and finance depart­ments, university culture and restrictions from funders. This lack of consistency has created an unrecognised and tenuous exist­ence for the people who develop software in academia, and this severely limits the number of people who can help researchers benefit from software.

Since 2013, the UK has led the world in recognising the importance of research software engineering. This has been the result of a grass-roots campaign, initiated and still supported by the Software Sustainability Institue (SSI), but since coordinated by the research software engineering community itself. The campaign has witnessed the rapid growth of an active community of over 1100 Research Software Engineers – a success which is being emulated from Australia to the US. It has seen the proliferation of a new type of group which pools software expertise across a university so that researchers can hire experts when they need them. It is a campaign that it backed by a growing number of research funders – for example, the EPSRC which invested millions into an RSE Fellowship – and hope that providing access to software experts will improve the reliability, reproducibility and reusability of the software used in research.

The RSE Conference was founded in 2016 to help the rapidly growing community coalesce. The first conference brought together 202 RSEs from 16 different countries, the second conference repeated this success and sold out the conference venue, and the third – this year’s conference – aims to double attendance. If you use software in research and want to talk about your work, then the RSE Conference is a great way to enter the community. If you like what you see, you can join the UK RSE Association .

Our grassroots community has achieved a number of successes, but there is much work still to be done. We must convince all research stakeholders of the vital link between reliable software and reliable results, and we must provide robust careers for RSEs and we must continue to make an RSE service available across all academic organisations. By providing the expertise needed by modern research groups, we will promote the development of well-engineered software that will increase the scope, productivity and reliability of research.


IoP Computational Physics Group Thesis Prize 2018

The Committee of the Institute of Physics Computational Physics Group welcomes applications for its annual thesis prize. The prize is awarded to the author of the PhD thesis that, in the opinion of the Committee, contributes most strongly to the advancement of computational physics. Runner-up prizes may also be awarded. Prize winners will be invited to write a feature article in the Computational Physics Group newsletter.

Entry is open to all students from an institution in the UK or Ireland, whose PhD examination has taken place since 1st January 2017 and up to the submission deadline of 30th April 2018, and who did not apply for the CPG Thesis Prize in the previous year.

Candidates are asked to note that if a similar thesis prize is offered by another IOP group (such as the Theory of Condensed Matter group), the Committee intends to liaise with that group so that both prizes will not be awarded to the same applicant.

Submission format

  • A four page (A4) abstract
  • A one page (A4) citation from the PhD supervisor, including confirmation of the date of PhD examination, that the student passed and whether the thesis has also been submitted to another IOP group for a PhD thesis prize
  • A one page (A4) confidential report from the external thesis examiner

Entries (PDF documents preferred) should be submitted by email, with “IOP CPG Thesis Prize” as the subject header, to Dr Arash Mostofi (a.mostofi@imperial.ac.uk). Any queries should also be directed to Dr Arash Mostofi.

EPS Survey – Open Science and Career Development

European Physical Society would like to invite as many physicists in Europe as possible to express their views on Open Science and Career Development:


The survey is carried out in collaboration with the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (Eurodoc) and with the Open Science Policy Platform (OSPP) of the European Commission. The survey was specifically formulated to suit the European physicists community, with a particular focus on young physicists. The results of this survey will be used to guide European policy on open science and to improve the career development of researchers.

The deadline for completion is 15 April 2018.