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NCSA Leaders Share Their Vision for Future of Computational Research

Director Bill Gropp and Chief Scientist Dan Katz sit at the end of a wooden conference table talking casually and smiling. Both are looking down and pointing at a tablet positioned between the two of them.

NCSA Director Bill Gropp and Chief Scientist Dan Katz.

National Center for Supercomputing Applications Director Bill Gropp and Chief Scientist Daniel S. Katz were recently featured as leading voices in DEI within the supercomputing ecosystem and in research software sustainability, respectively.

Gropp was chosen to be a member of a panel at the Monterey Data Conference in California on “Creating a Strong Workforce with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for Scientific Machine Learning” where he was able to speak about efforts to reach out to underrepresented communities in the field and share NCSA’s DEI values with conference attendees.

I could focus on research that shows that diverse groups are better at solving problems, but we should not need to justify DEI in that way. For me, and NCSA at large, building a strong culture of DEI is simply the right thing to do. It’s also not easy, and we have to constantly evaluate how we are doing and look for better ways to improve. A part of this is seeking partners and supporting efforts in the community and with the professional societies to continually prioritize DEI in our field.

Bill Gropp, NCSA director

The Monterey Data Conference is an annual invitation-only meeting in Monterey, California, which brings together researchers from Department of Energy national laboratories, facilities, universities and industry to showcase and discuss the latest advances and open challenges in scientific data analysis and computing.

Meanwhile, Katz was a keynote speaker at three different international conferences related to software engineering and sustainability. He spoke at the New Zealand Research Software Engineering Conference 2022, followed by the Latin America High Performance Computing Conference (CARLA 2022) and, finally, the 36th Brazilian Symposium on Software Engineering at CBSoft 2022.

NCSA has been a leader in research software development and maintenance for many years, we believe with the largest group of research software engineers (RSEs) in a university worldwide. Research software as a key element of research has recently been recognized as an important topic across many fields, and the challenges around how it is sustained, including incentives that lead communities to form around research software projects, such as citations, career paths, FAIRness, and funding are also becoming highly relevant topics in computer and information sciences.

Daniel S. Katz, NCSA chief scientist

Katz is the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign principal investigator for a recently awarded, nearly $1 million collaborative project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help find sustainable practices to support Parsl, an open-source software package that helps democratize access to computing resources, including NSF’s increasingly broad and powerful cyberinfrastructure, and share them with the wider research software community. The project is a collaboration between NCSA and a University of Chicago team led by Kyle Chard, a research associate professor in the Department of Computer Science.

“We’ve been working on building this software to meet community needs for many years, and we’re excited to have this opportunity to be supported in transitioning the project and its governance to a more community-oriented approach,” Katz said. “NCSA has strong open-source and software sustainability knowledge that we will apply.”

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