Lightning Talks Return, Part 2

27
Feb
2014

After a successful first run last fall, the Computation Institute hosted a second round of lightning talks -- short talks about CI research and opportunities for students at UChicago and Argonne National Laboratory. This round of speakers focused on applications of computer and programming skills to areas ranging from social good to genomics to nanotechnology at CI centers and projects including Swift, Globus, the Data Science for Social Good Fellowship, and more. Here's the second half of the event; the first half talks were posted earlier this week.

Hakizumwami Birali Runesha, UChicago Research Computing Center

As the computational needs of academic researchers grow more complex, demand increases for high-performance computing and data visualization. In 2012, the University of Chicago created the Research Computing Center to provide these resources (including some tools developed by the CI) for faculty and students from all corners of campus. Hakizumwami Birali Runesha, director of the RCC, talked about the services and student job opportunities at the center, and mentioned a few of his favorite projects that have used the RCC, including a fossil study that transferred and analyzed thousands of CT scan images from a museum in Italy.

"The research really spans everything from physical sciences, biological sciences, and then humanities, Booth school, law school, and even the art school," Runesha said. 

Maria Chan, Argonne Center for Nanoscale Materials

Engineering is now precise enough to manipulate small amounts of atoms to create new types of materials that are stronger, more flexible, or more energy efficient. Argonne's Center for Nanoscale Materials is one of five national centers exploring the frontiers of this young science, and CI fellow Maria Chan uses computational modeling to interpret experimental results and develop the theory behind the center's work. 

"If you think of atoms as people, then atomic physics is like psychology or psychiatry and material science is like sociology," Chan said. "That makes nanoscale science is more like organizational management...how different individuals interact with each other and in small groups." 

Ravi Madduri, Globus

Increasingly, every scientist is forced to become a computer scientist in addition to their chosen discipline. Globus develops "services for science," helping tap the potential of cloud computing and science-as-a-service to help scientists with time-consuming computational tasks, such as data management, analysis of large datasets, and collaboration over long distances. Ravi Madduri is building cloud-based analysis platforms for working with large datasets in genomics, climate science, and other fields with computational challenges -- though as Madduri observed, "Any data that you cannot handle is big data for you."

"At CI you get to change the world, you can work on projects that have great impact," Madduri said.

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