Fellow Feature: Francien Bossema

10 Jun 2024 - 5 min

Every year, the Netherlands eScience Center shares a call for applications for our Fellowship Programme. The Programme is aimed at members of the academic research community who are passionate about acting as ambassadors for the use of research software. It is for individuals who have the ambition to promote or improve the use of research software within their organization or discipline. Our 2023-2024 fellows are currently halfway through their fellowship year. What better time to showcase their progress over the course of their programme.  

We will present you with interviews with each of 14 Fellows. From creating tutorials to organizing interactive seminars, our Fellows are at the forefront of shaping the landscape of research software practices. 

In our upcoming interview, you will read about Francien Bossema. Francien is a PhD Candidate at CWI (Center for Mathematics and Computer Science) and is working to raise awareness of the potential value of research software within the museum context. 

Q: What role does research software play in your daily activities? 
A: Most of my work includes some form of research software. Part of my PhD at CWI (Center for Mathematics and Computer Science) has been developing algorithms and software to improve the CT scanning (3D imaging with X-rays) for the application of investigating art objects from the Rijksmuseum.  

Q: What initially inspired you to apply to the fellowship programme at the eScience Center? 
A: At the time I was working on a project called IntACT, which aimed to combine multiple 3D imaging methods. This was inspired by the collaborations I had had with my Rijksmuseum colleagues before. They found it challenging to interpret CT data, because it shows the interior in greyscale and lacks the colour and texture that they could see on the object itself. Therefore, in the project we tried to combine the outer surface using structured light scans and CT scans. For this, we developed a plugin for open-source 3D visualization software Blender. It was a very interdisciplinary project and the aim was to develop the plugin in such a way as to make it accessible and usable by the Rijksmuseum colleagues. The eScience Fellowship provided the opportunity to promote my research software and to organize a workshop for my Rijksmuseum colleagues to encourage them to use it, as well as to gather feedback from prospective users.  

Q: How is your fellowship helping you to promote the use of research software in your own community? 
A: The fellowship has allowed me to organize a small workshop within the Rijksmuseum. This took place in May 2024, and we had 22 enthusiastic participants, not only from the Rijksmuseum, but also from TU Delft, RCE and eScience center. Secondly, the workshop was given twice at the 2+3D photography conference, with in total 30 participants from over the world. Additionally, I have presented the associated paper  at the InArt conference in Oslo. 

Q: What have you enjoyed, thus far, during your Fellowship at the eScience Center? 

A: The peek behind the scenes at the eScience center has been very nice. There is a great atmosphere of teamwork and people are interested in collaborating and discussing ideas. The Fellowship allowed me to organize a workshop to promote and discuss my software, at the Rijksmuseum, which was a great success. 

Q: What are some challenges that you have faced throughout your project, thus far? How have you overcome these obstacles? 

A: The main challenges are related to the technicalities of software. How to make sure it is interoperable and usable for everyone. We encountered many different types of installation issues and bugs in the software we had not yet seen before. Some rigorous debugging and further development are necessary, but for that more time and more budget is needed.  

Q: Keeping this project in mind, what do you hope to do after your fellowship? 

A: I hope that research software will become more recognized as important output for researchers. Also, that researchers (already at PhD/Postdoc level) get support to develop and maintain software and user interfaces, so that they are not just an appendix to a scientific article and end up ‘gathering dust in drawers,’ but are used by the audience they were intended for.  

Q: What do you hope will change in the use of research software in your community after your fellowship? 

A: I think the need for research software within the museum community is more and more recognized. I hope that this will result in more cultural heritage related projects within the computer science community and further integration of this research field within museum research facilities.  

Who are we?  

The eScience Center is a research organization dedicated to applying research software to answer research questions in any scientific domain through project collaborations. It has the largest concentration of dedicated, high-level research software expertise in the Netherlands. The eScience Center also has a fellowship programme and makes all of its software and training materials openly available online. For more information about what we offer, visit esciencecenter.nl.