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NCSA Gravity Group Prepares Students for Their Futures

Earth's Atmosphere

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications Gravity Group is an interdisciplinary research team with a broad portfolio at the interface of data science, extreme-scale computing and innovative artificial intelligence applications in multi-messenger astrophysics, cosmology, astronomy, numerical relativity and other big-data experiments. Mentors in this group provide insight and guidance to help students achieve goals and inspire them to reach beyond the stars.

This past year was like no other as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign took careful measures to ensure everyone’s safety by shifting to remote study and work. Despite the circumstances, seven NCSA Gravity Group interns gained valuable knowledge and skills to prepare them for the next step in their lives. As they set their sights forward, they reflect on their experiences and share their bright plans for the future.

William Wei is an Illinois Physics Ph.D. student interested in time-series denoising and forecasting, signal detection and parameter estimation, image classification and object detection. In his research on Gravitational Wave Denoising of Black Hole Mergers, Wei used statistical learning and worked alongside Eliu Huerta.

“I joined the Physics department in 2016 and NCSA’s Gravity Group in 2018. I have authored or co-authored more than 10 papers related to applying deep learning to gravitational-wave and high-energy physics,” says Wei. “I received funding from Capital One and an NSF grant for ‘Collaborative Research: Frameworks: Machine learning and FPGA computing for real-time applications in big-data physics experiments’ (PI: Eliu Huerta). I was also recently awarded the Scott Anderson Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant Awards for 2021 by the Department of Physics.”

Wei recently completed his thesis defense and will join the team at Goldman Sachs this summer.

Zhuo Chen is an Illinois Physics undergraduate interested in coding to detect merging black holes. He works on the Detection of Eccentric Black Hole Mergers with a Gravitational Wave Detector Network project. He is a recipient of the A.C. Anderson Undergraduate Research Award and has three published papers, one in NeurIPS Workshop and two in arXiv (PDF 1PDF 2).

Chen has been accepted to graduate programs at MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Berkeley, and plans to continue his studies at MIT.

Joe Adamo is a recent graduate of the Illinois Physics undergraduate program. He worked on the Convergence of Numerical Relativity, Deep Learning at Scale, and Large-Scale Computing for Multi-Messenger Astrophysics project. Adamo is a recipient of the Philip J. and Betty M. Anthony Undergraduate Research Prize and a co-author of a paper published in Physical Review D.

Adamo is currently working with Argonne National Laboratory’s Cosmology Group as a part-time researcher and plans to continue his studies at the University of Arizona in the Astronomy doctoral program.

Arjun Gupta is a recent graduate of the Illinois Electrical and Computer Engineering undergraduate program. He worked on the Denoising Gravitational Waveforms with Deep Learning project and has a paper published in the European Medical and Biological Engineering Conference and co-authored another one published in NeurIPS.

Gupta spent a summer working with the IBM-ILLINOIS Center for Cognitive Computing Systems Research and is continuing his studies at Illinois in the ECE graduate program.

Jiangran Wang is a Computer Engineering senior at Illinois, graduating this spring. He works on a project about distributed protocols of IoT devices and research on simulation of quantum dynamics with neural networks. Wang is a recipient of the Harriett and Robert C. Perry Scholarship.

Wang is seeking summer internship opportunities and plans to continue his studies at Illinois in the ECE graduate program.

Bing-Jyun Tsao is a recent graduate of the Illinois Physics undergraduate program. He worked on the Binary Neutron Star Simulations with Numerical Relativity project. Tsao has published one paper published in arXiv and has one in review by Classical and Quantum Gravity.

Tsao is currently working at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a post-Bachelor student and is continuing his studies at the University of Texas, Austin in the Physics doctoral program.

Yufeng Luo is a recent graduate of the Illinois CS + Astronomy undergraduate program. He worked on a project involving DataVault, a data storage infrastructure for the Einstein Toolkit to store and analyze numerical relativity simulation waveforms. Luo has one paper in review by Classical and Quantum Gravity.

Luo is currently working at NCSA and the UIUC Department of Astronomy as a post-Bachelor student and plans to continue his studies at the University of Wyoming in the Physics doctoral program.

NCSA’s Gravity Group helped these students expand on their passions and gain valuable hands-on experiences and skills to prepare them for the next chapter in their lives.

“Six years ago, Gabrielle Allen and Ed Seidel invited me to come to NCSA and create a research team with a focus in multi-messenger astrophysics and advanced computing,” says Eliu Huerta, head of Translational AI and Advanced Computing at Argonne National Laboratory. “I enjoyed building the Gravity group from the ground up, leveraging the SPINREU and Faculty Fellows programs at NCSA. During this time, I mentored 30+ students that the finest universities and world-leading companies have recruited. The students graduating this year reflect the academic excellence and sustained innovation that has characterized the Gravity Group.”

The NCSA Gravity Group has been fortunate to attract talented students from multiple departments at the University of Illinois. The interdisciplinary research at NCSA brings together many viewpoints and enables a fruitful collaboration among a diverse group of researchers. I am very pleased to be part of NCSA’s Gravity Group to engage with students through education and research. The group of students graduating this year shows the breadth of their expertise in their research projects and their first-author publications. I am very pleased to see them continue their career as graduate students and look forward to their future work in physics and astronomy.

Roland Haas, NCSA Senior Research Programmer, Gravity Group Mentor

Congratulations to the 2020 and 2021 graduates. NCSA wishes all the best of luck in your new endeavors and encourages you to continue to reach beyond the stars.

Read more about the Gravity Group and their work.


The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation’s science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students and collaborators from around the globe use these resources to address research challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing many of the world’s industry giants for over 35 years by bringing industry, researchers and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.

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