Fellow Feature: Gabriele Sarti

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 this interview, you will learn more about PhD student Gabriele Sarti’s experience participating in the Science Center’s Fellowship Programme, where he is improving and promoting Inseq, a novel Python library to democratize access to explainable AI methods for the study of generative language models. 

Q: Could you tell me what role research software plays in your daily activities?  

A: Research software, like the Inseq library I am developing as part of my Fellowship project, is fundamental to facilitating in-depth analyses of behaviors and internal mechanisms of language models and their reproducibility by other members of the research community. 

Q: What initially inspired you to apply to the Fellowship Programme at the eScience Center?  

A: My inspiration came from a desire to promote my research tools in my community and internationally. After learning about the eScience Center’s focus on innovative research software, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to learn more about this field and expand my skills and network. 

Q: How is your fellowship helping you to promote the use of research software in your own community?  

A: The Fellowship has provided me with resources and a platform for which I can advocate and implement advanced research software practices within my community, fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration in the development of research tools for the study of language models.

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

A: I have enjoyed the collaborative environment and exposure to cutting-edge software development practices. Also, I have had the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of researchers and developers, which has significantly broadened my perspective on research software development. I also found discussing development details with my eScience Center mentor very useful to plan further developments for my research toolkit. 

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

A: A major challenge has been integrating cutting-edge interpretability methods into my research software due to technical and conceptual complexities. Collaborative problem-solving and leveraging the collective expertise of other researchers in the field I met thanks to the Fellowship have played an important role in overcoming these issues. 

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

A: After my Fellowship, I would love to continue advancing the state of open-source tooling for interpretability research on language models, given their important role in today’s society. For this reason, I wish to secure a position that would allow me to conduct research in this domain while also enabling my efforts towards the development of high-quality open-source tools. 

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

A: I hope to see a heightened awareness and adoption of modern open-source tools to support the research efforts of my academic colleagues, with a focus on making new research code maintainable and interoperable with popular research libraries currently in use. 

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.