Fellow Feature: Joshua Dijksman

22 May 2024 - 4 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 in the midst of 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 the 14 Fellows. From creating tutorials to organizing interactive seminars, our Fellows are at the forefront of shaping the landscape of research software practices.  

In the next interview, you will read about eScience Center Fellow and Associate Professor at the University of Amsterdam, Joshua Dijksman, who is working on a project that aims to improve training methods introducing new users to the computational science behind simulating the physical behavior of powders and grains. 

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

A: Research software lets me process experimental data, particularly to extract meaningful data from it, which can be compared to other scientific data that usually come from numerical simulations. 

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

A: I was inspired to apply because I believe that proper software handling is an underappreciated aspect of doing science, and any effort towards doing this better can receive my support. Concretely, I was working in a collaboration that already stimulated open science and open software, and I figured this would be a good fit. 

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

A: The fellowship has allowed us to further develop an open communication and training tool that teaches people how to use a particular type of numerical simulation toolbox. Furthermore, the fellowship allowed me to promote these tools at conferences. 

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

A: It was a pleasure to see the diversity of open e-science projects among the fellows, interact with other academics, learn about the continuously changing landscape of scientific computing, and even learn some new teaching tools in the process. 

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

A: One of the challenges we faced was the lack of time to really bring about systematic change in our way of working. If one cannot have permanent resources to support open e-science, small projects run the risk of drowning in the noise. Even so, every effort towards a desirable goal helps. 

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

A: I would love to continue developing the open learning tool that was supported by the Fellowship, and, for example, via a new MSCA doctoral network, which will involve the same partners. 

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

A: I hope that a new generation of students will improve their way of handling numerical simulation software used in our community and will try more to rely on well-maintained, open-source packages where possible. 

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.