QCIF in 2019: A year in review

Our most active training schedule ever, coupled with a handful of major data software platforms, kept QCIF particularly busy this year.

Fortunately, we had nine new staff join the team in a changing of the guard to help tackle the increased workload.
Dr Mark Crowe filled the new role of Training Manager and helped to almost triple the number of participants in QCIF and QFAB workshops compared to 2017.
QCIF ran or supported 104 workshops this year—including 60 QFAB workshops— involving, in total, more than 1,400 trainees, with nearly 12,000 trainee hours delivered.
As well as hosting researchers from QCIF’s seven Queensland member universities, QCIF also hosted guest trainees from 11 other universities and research organisations across Australia.
QCIF provided five instructors for the ResBaz conference at QUT in July, who between them trained 143 participants across five workshops.
QCIF’s CQU-based eResearch Analyst Jason Bell successfully trialled online training this year, both for the university’s Hacky Hour and for Software Carpentry workshops. QCIF will expand this training model in 2020.
QCIF renewed its membership to The Carpentries, one of the world’s largest data skills teaching communities, and six staff from QCIF’s members undertook Carpentries instructor training in order to lead workshops at their university.
This year, QCIF also developed a new sensitive data workshop, and training in reproducible research.
QFAB ran 18 Galaxy Australia workshops this year and incidentally, the national bioinformatics platform won three trophies at the Australian Information Industry Association’s (AIIA) Queensland iAwards in June, including the top prize, the Queensland Premier's iAward for Public Sector Innovation. 
Other big wins for QCIF in 2019 include receiving almost $80,000 in ARDC project funding; securing a contract with Bioplatforms Australia to manage its national data portal; Google investing in research data management tool ReDBox 2.0; and successfully assisting The University of Queensland to roll out its MeDiCI data storage fabric to James Cook University for seamless data transfers between researchers’ devices and on and off-campus data storage.
Other successes include the launch of the Australian Bioinformatics Commons (BioCommons), of which QCIF is a partner, and becoming the new lead agent of both the Humanities and Social Sciences Data Enhanced Virtual Laboratory (HASS DEVL) and its Tinker Web portal, and the EcoCommons Australia project.

New staff

As well as Dr Mark Crowe joining as Training Manager, QCIF hired eight other new staff members this year in a changing of the guard.
Troy Lockett joined the team at the start of this year as Business Development and Communications Manager. He has strengthened QCIF’s Data Innovation team and its projects and firmed ties with the Queensland Government.
Heidi Perrett and Grahame Bowland joined the Data Innovation team as Program Manager and Senior Software Engineer, respectively, to assist with the Bioplatforms Australia Data Portal project, and, in Heidi’s case, to work on other projects too.
Dr Tiffanie Nelson and Dr Farah Zahir joined the QFAB team; Farah as a biostatistician and Tiff in research community engagement for the Australian BioCommons.
Replacing former staff, three new eResearch Analysts joined QCIF: Chantelle Pinnington (JCU), Craig Windell (QUT) and Dr Edan Scriven (UQ).
Since QCIF’s CEO for the past two years, Dr Phil Gurney, stepped down in August due to family commitments, QCIF eResearch Services Manager Nigel Ward has been ably serving as acting CEO. We expect to hire a new CEO in early 2020.

Hacky Hours

Hacky Hours were launched at both USQ and CQU this year with a mix of in-person and online help. Hacky Hours are regular meetups featuring IT experts, including QCIF staff, helping researchers with their research-related IT issues.
USQ started with a weekly Toowoomba Hacky Hour and a monthly Springfield one, but moved later in the year to have both campuses feature weekly Hacky Hours. 
CQU’s Hacky Hour is held twice a month.
In Queensland, Hacky Hours are also held at UQ, Griffith and QUT.


QCIF-managed research data management tool ReDBox had a great year with Google investing in it and partnering with the University of Wollongong in a project to expand the tool’s capabilities, including adding a Google workspace.
Overall, 11 Australian institutions are using ReDBox, three of whom—James Cook University, the University of Wollongong and University of Newcastle—started using ReDBox 2.0 this year.


Lastly, QFAB, QCIF’s bioinformatics arm, also had its busiest year yet. 

The team opened a new biostatistics clinic at the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, in addition to existing clinics for Metro South HHS, Children's Health Queensland HHS, the University of Queensland’s Faculty of Medicine and the University of the Sunshine Coast.
We’ll let QFAB’s 2019 statistics do the rest of the talking:

  • 39 consulting projects
  • 380 consultations and short projects
  • 60 workshops delivered, including in Townsville and Cairns
  • 8 QFAB staff embedded in research teams
  • 16 grant applications with QFAB included
  • 31 authorships in refereed publications
  • 6 conference papers
  • 5 invited talks
  • 6 QFAB staff involved in Galaxy Australia and the Australian BioCommons
  • 2 QFAB staff involved in the Queensland Genomics Infectious Disease Portfolio (2019–2021).

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