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 holds an EPSRC Research Software Engineering Fellowship and is the academic leader of the RSE Group. 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 engineers software 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. Lester works on BioSimSpace, and will soon be taking up a position working on a project at Bristol with GraphCore.

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 - OpenGHG RSE

Gareth engineers software for OpenGHG, a NERC-funded project 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.

Matt Edwards - BCI RSE

Matt joined the RSE group in 2020, with a background in aerodynamics, having completed a PhD in Bristol that year. Matt's PhD exposed him to a wide range of topics, such as image analysis, adaptive sampling techniques, statistics, and advanced interpolation amongst others. He particularly enjoys optimising code both for performance and readability, and has a keen interest in learning and applying software engineering best practices. Matt works to provide general RSE support to researchers working in the Bristol Composites Institute.

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 consulting service. 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.

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 consulting service. 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.

ACRC RSE (Research Software Engineers) Group

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