Six people in an office looking at screens
The ITSEE project room in 2016: Cat Smith is on the right of the picture

This month, Dr Catherine Smith takes up a position as a Research Software Engineer in the University's Advanced Research Computing team.

For the last twelve years, Cat has been based in the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE) as Research Fellow and Technical Officer. After completing a PhD in the Department of Theology and Religion, supervised by Mark Goodacre, she gained a distinction on the University's MSc in Computer Science. This was followed by research positions at Birmingham, Liverpool and Nottingham focussing on digital archives (including the British Library Incunabula Short Title Catalogue) and corpus linguistics.

Cat returned to Birmingham in 2011 to work on the European Research Council COMPAUL project and the Workspace for Collaborative Editing. Since then, she has taken responsibility for all software development in ITSEE, leading work on the infrastructure to support Birmingham's contribution to the Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior. She also worked on the Virtual Shakespeare Performance Archive, the Codex Zacynthius Project, the Multimedia Yasna project (an ERC project in collaboration with SOAS) and the CATENA project. She has been on the supervision team for at least eighteen postgraduate research students, many of whom have gone on to academic positions, and taught on the Electronic Book module.

Having worked as a Research Software Engineer in ITSEE before this role was formally recognised on a national level (the UK Research Software Engineers Association was only founded in 2013), Cat has collaborated closely with the University's Research Software Group since its foundation in 2017. In 2019 she was awarded a fellowship by the Software Sustainability Institute, while at the annual conference of the Society of Research Software Engineers in 2022 Cat was presented with an 'RSE catalyst' award in recognition of her contributions to the UK RSE community in its first ten years.

Cat has been a key member of ITSEE for over a decade. Without her, the huge amounts of data and digital editions which have been produced at Birmingham in that time would not be in such good order, enabling ITSEE to maintain its global reputation as a pioneer in the field of electronic editing and develop robust pathways to collaborative online publications. Cat has supported our international collaborations and a wide range of student projects from long before the University had a central team of research software developers. Now that team is well established, it makes sense for her to become part of it, and we look forward to continuing to work with her on individual projects, although her wider contribution both to the Institute and to the Department of Theology and Religion will be missed.

Professor Hugh Houghton, Director of ITSEE

Although she leaves the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Cat will continue to be a member of ITSEE as the lead developer on the the 1COR project in collaboration with KU Leuven. She will also continue to contribute to the Anglo-German GALaCSy project.

An insight into Cat's work and the historical use of computers in New Testament research is provided by her 2019 article, "Old Wine, New Wineskins: Digital Tools for Editing the New Testament".