NCSA Student Spotlight: Mone’t Alberts

06.22.18 -

Mone't Alberts was one of 18 undergraduate students from across the country to receive support for the 2017-2018 Blue Waters Student Internship Program at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This program provided Mone't with a $5,000 stipend, two weeks at an intensive high-performance computing workshop, and an education allocation on the Blue Waters supercomputer.

What wasn't obvious, however, was that her Blue Waters internship would lead to an invitation to attend the D. E. Shaw Research Engineering Summit (DESRES) for 30 up-and-coming undergraduate students. DESRES is a New York-based independent research laboratory that specializes in the field of computational biochemistry.

Mone't is majoring in materials science engineering, with a minor in biomaterials, and she had been working on her research for about a year before submitting a project proposal to the Blue Waters Student Internship Program. "I wanted to use Blue Waters to figure out how epoxies are cured, and how bonding rates change their microstructure. We used Blue Waters to run simulations to figure out the morphology and properties of different compounds and compare results to their findings," she said.

Before attending the two-week Petascale Institute, Mone't had only coded using Python. "I didn’t know a ton about supercomputing, but I learned a lot about clusters and supercomputing and how they worked," said Mone't.

Admittedly, she had a tough time getting her project started on Blue Waters. "I had a lot of issues getting my project started, because the implementation is different. I probably put in 15 help tickets," said Mone't, "but I got help right away from the science and engineering support team, which I probably wouldn't have been able to use any of my allocation if I didn't have that kind of help."

Mone't learned about the Blue Waters internship from her mentor, Dr. Eric Jankowski, who runs the lab she works in, and who helped shift her interests to materials science engineering. "I originally wanted to go into chemical engineering, but Boise State didn't have a program for that and I wanted to stay at this university, so I took Dr. Jankowski's class, Intro to Computational Science, and then I followed up about potential internship opportunities in his lab," said Mone't.

"He emailed right away and said if I could make it for a lab meeting at 3:00pm the next day, I would have an internship, so I started the next day," she said.

Additionally, Mone't knew former Blue Waters interns, Kendra Noneman, Jaime Guevara, and 2018-2019 Blue Waters intern, Bryton Anderson.

"Everything I've learned so far, I've really liked it, and I ended up doing because I didn't have chemical engineering at my school," said Mone't, "and I think it's all for the better."

Looking ahead, Mone't plans to graduate with her Bachelor's degree in Spring 2020. After graduation, she plans to get her PhD in biomaterials and pursue a career in biomedical engineering.

National Science Foundation

Blue Waters is supported by the National Science Foundation through awards ACI-0725070 and ACI-1238993.