ACRC RSE (Research Software Engineers) Group

The ACRC Research Software Engineering Group is a mix of grant-funded and core-funded RSEs whose focus is to improve the reusability, robustness, sustainability and quality of research software developed across the University.

We are an outward looking research group, with members drawn from both the academic and support sides of the University. This provides a unique environment of close collaboration and a mix of skills that enables us to work successfully with researchers across the University. While each have our specialties, we all work together to deliver on the promise of "better software, better research". This includes developing training materials that are available online, and given as ACRC workshops, and providing consultancy via drop-in sessions and organised events.

You can get in touch with us individually by following the links below, or by emailing

Group Members

Christopher Woods - Head of RSE

Christopher held an EPSRC Research Software Engineering Fellowship from 2016-2021 and is now employed as the Head of Research Software Engineering. He has worked at Bristol since 2006, first as a PostDoc in Chemistry, and later as Technical Lead and Systems Administrator for BrisSynBio. He has a strong background in computational chemistry, biomolecular modelling and Monte Carlo methods, and particular expertise in programming with C++ and Python. His research interests include improving the quality of academic research software via the addition of unit and integration tests, developing new ways of parallelising software using task-based approaches, and developing demand-driven applications that enable scalable computing on the cloud and the development of computing notebooks that combine documentation, simulation and interactive data analysis. Christopher is the principal or founding software engineer for a number of projects, including MetaWards, Sire, Brunel's Network and ProtoMS.

Matt Williams - RSE

Matt leads the training provision in the RSE team while working on different research projects. He joined the University in 2016, coming from the University of Birmingham where he provided support for the LHC's world-wide computing platform. He worked to support the synthetic biology community at Bristol as part of the ACRC. He has a strong background in Physics and computational modelling. He is especially interested in making research software more sustainable through the use of testing, version control and automation of processes. 

Lester Hedges - RSE

Lester works on a range of projects across the University, specialising mostly in those that involve an element of biomolecular modelling or data analysis. Lester is the principal software engineer for BioSimSpace, an EPSRC Software Flagship Project in partnership with CCPBioSim and HECBioSim. Lester joined the group in 2017, having previously worked as a PostDoc in the UK and US. Trained as a physicist, Lester has a background in statistical mechanics and has worked on problems ranging from the glass transition to nucleation and phase transformation. Lester has a strong background in Monte Carlo methods and coarse-grained modelling and is interested in improving the reproducibility and interoperability of research software. 

Al Tanner - RSE

Al arrived at the University of Bristol in 2009 studying evolutionary biology. This developed into a passion for bioinformatics and computational biology, being awarded a doctorate in phylogenomics in 2018 for work with the University of Bristol Palaeontology Research Group. Since then he has broadened his data skills through epidemiology as a member of the Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit. Al has wide collaborative experience as a member of three faculties at Bristol (Earth Sciences, Life Sciences and the Medical School). Along with this, as a keen graphic designer, he brings a love of visual communication to the ACRC RSE team.

Gareth Jones - RSE

Gareth works on a range of projects, including engineering software for OpenGHG, a NERC-funded endeavour to develop a data sharing and analysis hub for greenhouse gas research. Gareth arrived at Bristol in 2019, working first on HUGS, which was a precursor to OpenGHG. Gareth has a strong background in cloud computing, web technologies and data modelling.

James C. Womack - RSE

James joined the RSE group in 2021. In his role as RSE support specialist, James helps researchers across the university to develop and maintain high-quality research software. He provides general RSE support to researchers in a wide range of disciplines via consultation, training, and collaboration, and runs the free-at-the-point-of-use ask-rse consultancy. James has a background in computational chemistry, with a decade of PhD and postdoctoral research experience developing software and methods for simulating molecules and materials at the quantum level. He is a strong advocate for software development best practices and tooling, having found these to be critical for the development of robust and successful research software.

Laurence Kedward - BCI RSE

Laurence joined the group in 2021, working within the Bristol Composites Institute supporting researchers with code modernisation, testing, best-practices, optimisation and high-performance computing. Laurence's background is in computational fluid dynamics and numerical methods for optimisation, which he explored through his PhD and postdoctoral research. His interests also include automatic differentiation, modern Fortran and GPU computing.

Rita Rasteiro - RSE

Rita joined the RSE group in 2022, as part of the IEU OpenGWAS team in the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit. Rita’s background is in Population Genetics, and she first arrived in Bristol at the end of 2017 to work as a Senior Research Associate in the School of Biological Sciences. Together with Prof Mark Beaumont, she developed a new model-based computer simulation approach to study the evolutionary past of populations from whole-genome data.

Past Members

Chris Edsall - Chris was a senior RSE in the group between 2016-2021, providing the free-at-the-point-of-use ask-rse consultancy. Chris has now moved to the University of Cambridge, taking up the role of Head of Research Software Engineering.

Andrew Williams - Andrew was the BCI RSE between 2018-2019. Andrew has now moved to Sweden, taking up a software engineering post with Ericsson.

Matt Edwards - Matt was the BCI RSE between 2020-2022. Matt has now taken up a software engineering post with HPE.

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