BSSw Fellowship Program FAQ

This page addresses frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the BSSw Fellowship Program. More questions/answers will be added to this page over time; check back for updates.


What Are Projects and Organizations Addressing Better Scientific Software?

Published September 04, 2018

The BSSw Fellowship Program gives recognition and funding to leaders and advocates of high-quality scientific software. Subscribe to the BSSw mailing list to be notified about fellowship details.

FAQ updated October 4, 2018

2019 Q&A Webinar:

A Q&A webinar for the 2019 BSSw Fellowship Program took place on Friday, September 21, 2018.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the fellowship application deadline for this year?

The application deadine is Tuesday, October 16, 2018, before midnight, PDT. This is a firm deadline that will not be extended.

Is a particular format required for the proposal?

Yes, please see the BSSw Fellowship webpage for details, including a link to the application form. Question summary:


- Describe your work relevant to scientific software (1000 - 1500 characters).

- Describe your background and experience relevant to being a BSSw Fellow (1000 - 1500 characters).

Proposed work and impact:

- What would you do as a BSSw Fellow? (1000 - 1500 characters).

- What impact do you foresee from your efforts? (1000 - 1500 characters).

What is the difference between the two Experience questions on the applicaton form?

The first (Describe your work relevant to scientific software) is asking about your background in scientific software products, and what "hands-on" experience you have had that would make you a credible expert in some aspect of scientific software.

The second (Describe your background and experience relevant to being a BSSw Fellow) is asking about evidence that you could be an effective advocate for better scientific software, reaching out to others to convey what you know as an expert.

What is the amount of funding for 2019 BSSw Fellows?

Each 2019 BSSw Fellow will receive up to $25,000 for an activity that promotes better scientific software.

Do you require a budget plan to be submitted as part of the application? if so, how detailed does it have to be?

Brief budget information can be provided as part of the proposed work section of the application. We will follow up later about more specific details.

Are there any restrictions on how the funding is used? Can it be used for travel?

Funding can be used to support effort in developing and delivering content, including travel. We suggest providing brief information in the proposed work section of the application. We will follow up with chosen BSSw Fellows about more specific budget details, including advance approval for travel, as required by the policies of our sponsors.

My institution’s project office inquired about indirect/overhead costs for BSSw Fellowship recipients. Are indirect/overhead costs allowed and should these be mentioned in the budget?

In addition to direct support for proposed work up to $25,000, the BSSw Fellowship covers usual and customary institutional indirect/overhead costs. Do not include your institution’s indirect/overhead costs in the brief budget information that is submitted in the proposed work section of the application.

So one idea would be to host a bunch of tutorials at our host institute on useful software practices, like version control? Is this the right idea?

We encourage emphasis on activities with a view toward broad impact, with some element that could serve more than a single set of people attending a single event.

So it is a possibility to host some of the content on the BSSw website? For instance if we create a video recording of a tutorial, etc.

We welcome content contributions to the site, in a variety of formats.

Are there any existing surveys or descriptions about the greatest needs in scientific software development?

Needs span throughout diverse areas of scientific software, including topics listed in the Computational Science and Engineering Software Sustainability and Productivity Workshop Report. Specific current needs include practices and methodologies that:

- Assist transition to modern high concurrency node architectures to exploit features such as vector, GPU, threading and tasking.

- Are used by the broader software community and can be adapted and adopted for use in scientific software.

- Help teams collaborate more effectively.

I am working on a scientific software project and have done a lot of coding to build reusable, open-source code. Can this program provide support for my continued work on this (code/application/tool)?

While any idea may be submitted, we cannot guarantee that this kind of idea would be competitive. The BSSw Fellowship Program focuses on fostering and promoting practices, processes, and tools to improve developer productivity and software sustainability of scientific codes. The application includes the proposal of a funded activity that promotes better scientific software. While candidates often are developing software as part of their broader scope of work, the BSSw Fellowship Program is not intended to support ongoing software development.

I recently began a new research project. Should I write a Fellowship proposal based on what I hope to achieve in a year's time frame? Or would it be better to base it on research that is more or less completed?

The BSSw Fellowship program is not about supporting new research, but rather about fostering and promoting practices, processes, and tools to improve developer productivity and software sustainability of scientific codes. This may be connected to research that is in progress, but not in a way that puts the Fellowship activities at risk if problems arise in the research.

The topic I want to pursue has been the subject of a recent BSSw Fellowship project by someone else. Should I apply?

The BSSw Fellowship program seeks to grow a broad community to help tackle many challenges in scientific software productivity and sustainability. In that spirit, we expect that applications that enhance topical diversity will be more competitive. For topics covered by recent BSSw Fellowships, we encourage applications to consider different approaches to the challenges.

We recognize that many scientific software challenges will require sustained effort to impact. But the goal of the BSSw Fellowship program is to mobilize the community on a variety of fronts related to software productivity and sustainability.

Do you expect fellows to attend events or meetings?

We encourage fellows to attend the Exascale Computing Project Annual Meeting, to be held during the week of January 14, 2019 in Houston, TX.

Is co-authorship allowed for applications to the BSSw Fellowship Program or you expect proposals to have solitary authors?

While we recognize that lots of important work takes place as collaborative partnerships, the BSSw Fellowship Program is limited to individual applicants.

Is it permissible for current BSSw Fellows to apply for the program in a future year?

No, applications of current BSSw Fellows will not be considered for awards in future years. While BSSw Fellows receive funding for activities during a particular period of performance, the designation of being a BSSw Fellow is ongoing. We encourage BSSw Fellows to continue to serve the scientific software community as alums by helping select future classes of Fellows and providing leadership in their communities.

Where can I learn more about the work of current BSSw Fellows?

Information about projects and perspectives of the inaugural class of BSSw Fellows is available here.

Does the proposal have to be involved with the Exascale Computing Project (ECP) or any kind of funded project?

No, connections are not required to any funded projects. We encourage applications from the broad scientific software community, regardless of funding sources.

Are there restrictions on who can apply for a BSSw Fellowship?

Applicants must be affiliated with a U.S.-based institution that is able to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. Typically such institutions include U.S. government labs, U.S. universities, and U.S.-based corporations. We encourage diverse applicants at all career stages, ranging from students through early-career, mid-career, and senior professionals.

What is the long-term vision for the BSSw Organization and BSSw Fellowship Program?

The long-term vision for the BSSw Organization is to serve as an international community-driven and community-managed resource for scientific software improvement, with content and processes provided by volunteers. Future plans center on working toward broad community leadership, growth, and diversification of the BSSw Organization and BSSw Fellowship Program---that is, expanding collaboration with complementary groups, stakeholders, sponsors, and individual contributors.

I am passionate about scientific software and would like to get involved in the BSSw community but currently am not eligible to pursue a BSSw Fellowship. How can I proceed?

The goal of the BSSw organization is to foster a broad, international community of researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders from national laboratories, academic institutions, and industry who are dedicated to curating, creating, and disseminating information that leads to improved software for the advancement of computational science and related technical computing areas. We want and need contributions from the international community for the BSSw site. If you have experience or expertise that can help other scientific software teams, we encourage you to contribute an article or pointer to good work. See details on how to contribute to BSSw. Also, we welcome conversations about potential for expanding international collaborations and sponsorship.

Other questions?

If you have additional questions, please contact us via email to