Summer Student Project: ISIS-9

Experimental Workflow Builder and Script Generator

Do you like 'making things work'? Do you enjoy coding? Like to see how scientists work at a large scale facility? If so, join our project to develop a sleek, intuitive interface for automating scientific experiments at large scale facilities.

One of the most common tasks for users and instrument scientists at ISIS (and other large scale user facilities) is the writing of ‘scripts’ – this is usually a list of instructions executed by the instrument control computer, which enable the automated running of experiments. The script usually contains instructions for specifying run titles, changing sample and detector positions and changing sample environment conditions (temperature, magnetic field etc.). To date at ISIS most scripts are written in a text editor in GCL (OpenGenie Language). While these scripts are crucial for the successful running of an experiment, there are several shortcomings: writing a script requires at least some basic knowledge of the GCL language; the scripts are prone to input errors (logic errors), which are not picked up by the syntax check; scripts are loaded and executed as a whole – it is not possible to amend or extend a script while it is running.

Recently, a graphical user interface has been developed, which provides an intuitive way of constructing an experimental workflow, without knowledge of GCL. The interface also provides some checks to avoid scripting errors. For maximum flexibility, the interface generates an OpenGenie (GCL) script on the fly, which can be edited by more advanced users.

We are seeking a summer student to develop this basic interface into a complete system, which can be customised and used on any ISIS instrument. This is expected to be beneficial for all users and instrument scientists at ISIS and also at other facilities.

Supervisor: Max Skoda (

You might particularly like this if you are interested in any of these: natural sciences, scientific computing, engineering, applied mathematics.

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