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Six PhD students from across the country selected as Blue Waters Graduate Fellows

Six outstanding computational science PhD students from across the country have been selected to receive the first Blue Waters Graduate Fellowships, which provide graduate students in diverse fields with substantial support and the opportunity to leverage the petascale power of NCSA’s Blue Waters supercomputer to advance their research. Over three years this fellowship program will award more than $1 million and nearly 30 million integer-core hours to support graduate research.

“We’re thrilled that we can support the next generation of computational scientists and provide these exemplary scholars with the opportunity to leverage some of the world’s most advanced computing resources,” says William T.C. Kramer, Blue Waters project director. “It will be equally as exciting to witness the discoveries and new knowledge they produce as Blue Waters Graduate Fellows.”

The 2014-2015 fellows were selected through an extensive review process from nearly 100 applicants.

  • Kenza Arraki, New Mexico State University, will examine how baryonic physics impacts the formation and evolution of dwarf galaxies by creating a new suite of 50 high-resolution dwarf galaxies simulated with the hydroART code.
  • Jon Calhoun, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will investigate transient faults that can potentially go undetected in sparse computations such as Algebraic Multigrid (AMG).
  • Sara Kokkila, Stanford University, will combine chemistry, mathematics, and high-performance computing to study the chemical properties of greenhouse gases.
  • Edwin Mathews, University of Notre Dame, will conduct research to improve the predictive capability for and understanding of aero-optics at realistic Reynolds numbers and Mach numbers.
  • Ariana Minot, Harvard University, will study the implementation of a GPU-accelerated particle filter algorithm and the potential of more general sequential Monte Carlo methods to better understand the behavior of the electric power grid under a high penetration of renewable energy sources and distributed smart loads.
  • Derek Vigil-Fowler, University of California, Berkeley, will add a layer of parallelism to the calculation of the dielectric matrix (DM) and the inverse dielectric matrix (IDM) to remove bottlenecks in calculations for large and complex systems.

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

The applicant pool was particularly strong, so 14 additional graduate students will receive allocations on Blue Waters, part of the 1 percent of the system reserved for educational projects.

Blue Waters is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, and is the fastest supercomputer on a university campus. 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.

The next call for applications for the Blue Waters Graduate Fellowship program will be in the fall of 2014. For more information about the program and the current fellows, visit

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