Senior Research Computing Officer

Durham, United Kingdom
£46,718 - £54,131
19 Jan 2021
End of advertisement period
01 Feb 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

Advanced Research Computing

Grade 8: - £46,718 - £54,131
Open-Ended/Permanent - Full Time
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 01-Feb-2021, 7:59:00 AM 

The Department and role purpose

The Directorate of Advanced Research Computing (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. 

Joining a team providing computing platforms to researchers across the organisation, 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 interventions at the local through to international level, commensurate with the University’s global research aspirations. 

The post-holder is expected to develop and draw upon technical and domain context of the provision of research computing systems, including the Hamilton HPC system, to ensure ARC provides appropriate research computing platforms, through forming 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, consultation and ensure effective knowledge transfer both across the institution and represent the University externally on matters of expertise. The post holder will also have the opportunity to provide and support services ARC provides within the regional/national context, such as the EPSRC tier-2 HPC system “Bede”, work on physical infrastructure deployments, working with teams in CIS, Estates and/or external providers as appropriate. 

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.

Core responsibilities:

  • Provide expert professional subject expertise and problem-solving skills in research computing at a standard to enable the University’s internationally competitive research aspirations. 
  • Act as recognised research computing practitioner, shaping activities, processes and systems. 
  • Responsible for operational activity across different areas. 
  • Oversight of short term or temporary project teams/strands, taking responsibility for decision making as appropriate. 
  • Engage with key stakeholders and internal and external contractors to influence opinion, delivery and reputation of services. 
  • Act as specialist point of contact dealing with complexity of data and information sources, interpretation and analysis. 
  • Significant input into the scoping and resource planning across a range of activities at operational and possibly strategic level. 
  • Carry out project scoping, initiation, planning and implementation for large scale/University wide research computing initiatives. 
  • Responsible for shaping the development and learning of others outside of team, through the design and delivery of training sessions. 
  • Lead on the design, implementation and monitoring of policy and quality standards, procedures and systems ensuring effective working and continuous improvement. 
  • Promote and develop a deep understanding of organisational policy and external developments. 
  • Promote the improvement and efficiency of departmental services by implementing and managing review and improvement procedures. 
  • Ensure all activities, processes and transactions are accounted for accurately and promptly to meet regulatory and professional service and policy standards. 
  • Implement processes to manage the integrity and security of all commercially and professionally sensitive and personal data. 
  • Lead internal and external business meetings, working groups and sub-committees at operational service level to influence governance, organisational policy and standards for the service.  
  • Responsible for allocating and monitoring financial budgets and resources. 

Role responsibilities:

  • Work within and across research areas to enable national significance. 
  • Contribute expert advice and guidance, collaborating with peers and academics to deliver research outputs. 
  • Assess and design modifications and implement developments to deliver desired outputs. 
  • Lead, design and deliver practical workshops, teaching and training sessions. 
  • Ensure continuous improvement and knowledge base development for world class delivery.   
  • Liaise and collaborate with academic staff at all levels across the University to build and maintain high-quality specialist support to underpin excellence in teaching, research and learning. 
  • Implement and audit health and safety risk assessments and procedures to ensure compliance with University and statutory regulations. 
  • Deliver professional expertise with the design, construction and development of investigative methodologies to achieve research objectives. 
  • Identify, source and customise systems, resources, materials, tools, equipment and software critical to teaching and research delivery and suggest and obtain alternatives where necessary. 
  • Contribute creativity and innovation to the teaching, learning and research delivery process and outcomes. 
  • Take responsibility for capturing and analysing data and interpreting patterns. 
  • Manage and monitor individual and overall health and safety assessments and procedures, ensuring compliance. 
  • Represent ARC and the University at promotional events and contribute to the delivery of presentations at conferences. 
  • Lead on activities and participate with others to generate external income, including involvement in research proposals. 
  • Deliver the planning, design and implementation of research outputs and prepare innovative teaching/research proposals. 
  • Build and maintain relationships within the research communities at the University and beyond, actively seeking opportunities for collaboration with researchers, regionally and nationally, on projects and activities of mutual benefits, including grant preparation. 
  • Rapidly assimilate research context and understand the computational and data analytics requirements involved from a research computing platform. 
  • Oversee and direct development work to improve reliability and performance of research computing platforms. 
  • 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. 
  • Involves working in a datacentre environment.

Essential criteria

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to develop excellent working relationships both internally and externally.  
  • Strong knowledge of using UNIX operating systems such as Linux, including shell scripting and interpreted languages such as Python/Perl. 
  • Educated to degree level (or equivalent experience) in a computing or related/applied discipline. 
  • Proven relevant experience in the field, providing user and/or systems support in an academic or research-focused setting
  • Evidence of technical competencies and specializations that are current with industry developments. Continuing professional development required to maintain professional recognition.  
  • Experience of being able to network effectively and develop strong and productive working relationships. 
  • Ability to solve problems and resolve issues, plan solutions and make pragmatic decisions. 
  • Experience of implementing policy and procedures and involvement with future changes for a service area. 
  • Ability to contribute to planning at operational and strategic levels. 
  • Experienced practitioner with a track record of supporting an effective research environment or similar environment as technically and organisationally complex 
  • Extensive knowledge and experience of ensuring compliance with regulatory and organisational policy and guidelines, including health and safety. 
  • Demonstrable ability to teach or train others with specific technical skills, and the operation of standard and complex scientific, technical and creative equipment. 
  • Experience of providing specialist advice and guidance to a range of customers and colleagues, including more senior colleagues. 
  • Evidence of success in building and developing partnerships and working effectively in cooperation with a wide range of customers and suppliers 
  • Experience of working as part of a team to achieve common goals as well as experience of working autonomously 
  • Ability to write high quality documentation 

Desirable Criteria

  • Professional practitioner with specialist knowledge and expertise used to influence service delivery and activities within the organisation. 
  • Relevant industry and professional recognition and certification of achievement of skills and knowledge. 
  • Expert knowledge and expertise in multiple areas of research computing, including HPC, Big Data and Cloud computing, and the application of advanced skills to create, build, construct, analyse and realise new and innovative resources and methods to enable research outcomes. 
  • Experience of being able to enter dialogue with researchers: influencing, challenging and responding to requirements posed by research questions. 
  • Demonstrable knowledge of HPC and research computing marketplace and trends 
  • Knowledge of relevant issues in the Higher Education context 
  • * Experience in supporting research computing systems, e.g. configuring and optimising interconnects, parallel filesystems, parallelisation implementations, accelerators (such as GPUs), automated provisioning, configuration management systems and workload management systems at scale 

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 (including those listed in the section ‘Realising Your Potential Approach’).

In some cases, the recruiting panel may also consider the desirable criteria, so we recommend you evidence all criteria in your application.

Please note that some criteria will only be considered at 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 https://www.dur.ac.uk/ig/dp/privacy/pnjobapplicants/ 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. The person specification and Realising Your Potential Approach grids. Please copy and paste the grids from this job description into a separate Microsoft Word document, complete the evidence columns and submit this alongside your other application material.

NOTE Any criteria marked with an asterisk* are key requirements for the role, and therefore may receive additional weighting when applications are scored during shortlisting.  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 alan.n.real@durham.ac.uk 

Mark Dixon, Head of Research Computing Platforms, ARC mark.c.dixon@durham.ac.uk

Rebecca Appleby, ARC Administrator rebecca.appleby@durham.ac.uk

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

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.