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Four Ph.D. students selected as Blue Waters Graduate Fellows

Four Ph.D. students have been selected to receive Blue Waters Graduate Fellowships for 2019-2020. The fellowship program, now in its sixth year, provides substantial support and the opportunity for early career researchers to leverage the sustained petascale performance of the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to advance their research.

By incorporating high-performance computing and data analysis, these students will significantly advance their research across a variety of disciplines. The selected applications were deemed to be excellent candidates for utilizing the Blue Waters resources and services.

“The Blue Waters Fellowship program provides aspiring and innovative young researchers with the essential resources to conduct research on complex science and engineering problems at a scale that they may not otherwise be able to pursue. The fellows will be provided with access to funding, an allocation of time on the Blue Waters supercomputer, and the expert advice from the Blue Waters professional staff to help make their use of Blue Waters effective. The fellows will be empowered to accelerate their research goals. We have been extremely proud of the accomplishments of the fellows in this unique NSF funded program. ” says Bill Kramer, Blue Waters Director. “We are happy that past fellows have had so much success and we will focus our efforts on ensuring that this new cadre of fellows excels in their computational research.”

To assess the long-term impact of the program on their professional careers, the progress of all previous fellows is tracked, and the fellows are provided with access to the Blue Waters system until they complete their Ph.D.

“[We’re] able to go in a very different direction [since Blue Waters] because it’s almost unprecedented to run the kind of biogeochemical model that we want to run at this resolution,” An advisor of a previous fellow stated. “That’s going to turn out to provide the dataset that other researchers will use.”

According to one of the past fellows, the fellowship with access to Blue Waters “let me tackle science questions that I couldn’t if I didn’t have the fellowship.” Another said the Blue Waters fellowship “literally changed my life.”

Since its inception, this program continues to be assessed by an independent evaluation team lead by Lizanne DeStefano, Executive Director at Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing.

“The impact data suggest that the Blue Waters Fellows program is transformational, producing a new generation of scientists who are experts in both their discipline and in the use of high-performance computing,” said DeStefano. “Their research not only offers significant contributions to the disciplinary knowledge base, but produces computational tools and data which elevate the research capacity of the fellows as a whole.”

The 2019-2020 fellows:

  • Forrest Glines, Michigan State University, will study magnetohydrodynamic simulations of galaxies.
  • Josh Lansford, University of Delaware, will focus on electron density-based machine learning for accelerating quantum calculations.
  • Nicole Rosato, Rochester Institute of Technology, will address improved gauge conditions for binary black hole simulations.
  • Micheline Soley, Harvard University, will research the ultracold KRb dimer reaction.

The fellows will receive a year of support to advance their research, including a tuition allowance, a substantial stipend, an allocation of time on the Blue Waters system, and funds to support travel to the annual Blue Waters Symposium.

Blue Waters is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, and is the fastest supercomputer on a university campus, with more aggregate memory and data capabilities than any other openly available resource. Scientists and engineers across the country use the computing and data power of Blue Waters to tackle a wide range of challenging problems, from predicting the behavior of complex biological systems to simulating the evolution of the cosmos. Blue Waters is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois.

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

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