Celebrating Women in Science: Meet Four Women Leading the Way in HPC

By AJ Lauer

February 11, 2019

Editor’s note: International Day of Women and Girls in Science is held each year on February 11, to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. HPCwire recognizes and supports this worldwide effort and is pleased to bring you this contributed article highlighting the leadership of women working in HPC.

One only needs to look around at virtually any CS/tech conference to realize that women are underrepresented, and that holds true of HPC. SC hosts over 13,000 HPC professionals every year, but in 2016 and 2017 only 13 percent of attendees were women. The conference aims to increase female attendance to 20 percent by 2020. Similarly, ISC reports that 10-15 percent of attendees are women, and organizers are actively working to improve gender diversity at the conference. The work of organizations like Women in HPC and efforts like XSEDE’s Broadening Participation program goes a long way to supporting women and diverse individuals in the field. Also important is visible representation of diversity in leadership positions in computer science fields because it allows underrepresented people to “see themselves” in the field (NCWIT, 2015).

To that end, in this article we present four women leaders who work in education and research fields in high-performance computing. They share how they got into HPC, plans for future contributions, and their advice for aspiring women leaders and the people who support them. HPCwire recognizes and promotes the importance of diversity to the HPC and supercomputing community and this article is the first in a series highlighting diversity within the supercomputing community.

Linda Akli – Assistant Director of Training, Education, & Outreach, Southeastern Universities Research Association & Manager, XSEDE Broadening Participation Program

Despite some challenges with my K-12 preparation coming from an under-resourced inner city school system, I obtained a degree in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and began my career in industry working on network and communication systems. Overtime, I transitioned to project management and strategic planning for a variety of technologies. While in industry, I felt isolated being the only African American female in most meetings, conferences, and at my workplace. That sparked my interest in doing outreach and exposing students to role models who look like them.

Though diversity is critical to innovation and a strong national economy, our field has significant challenges in recruiting and maintaining a diverse workforce. My participation on XSEDE has enabled me to develop innovative workforce development programs that expand the participation of underrepresented minorities, women, and researchers at under-resourced institutions in advanced computing. Being part of the process that improves the health of the field and helps someone make breakthrough discoveries or encourages a student to join the field is extremely exciting. Long-term I look forward to seeing the expanded infusion of computational and data science into curriculum and increased usage of national HPC resources by researchers at Minority Serving Institutions, especially Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

My advice to anyone entering the field, is be yourself. If you don’t fit in an environment, move on because the right one is probably around the corner. Second, find the area within HPC that supports your passion. You will do your best work if it is your passion. Third, be open minded about who might be your mentors. My mentors have been male and female but not one has been of color due to the small number that work in advanced computing. Last, develop a strong network. Your network will get you through the tough days and help you maintain perspective. My advice for supervisors and mentors is that anyone who crosses your path is worth helping along the way regardless of where they come from or what they look like. We have too many open jobs not to recognize that investing in people is how the industry will continue to thrive.

Angie Asmus – IT Security Analyst, Colorado State University & Co-chair, Edge/Commodity Team, SCINET 2019

I have been working in IT for almost 20 years right out of college, mostly as a sysadmin on various platforms. It has been through these opportunities that I gained valuable experience in IT security and compliance. When the opportunity presented itself to move into a security role and learn networking at Colorado State University , I eagerly accepted it.

I was awarded the opportunity to work on SCinet at SC16 through the Women In IT Networking at SC (WINS) program. At SC19 I am taking a leadership position through SciNet, as the co-chair for the team that provides wired edge connections for the conference. This includes connectivity for wireless access points, meeting rooms, committee offices, and the NOC work area. I hope to encourage and mentor other women in their careers as some important women have done for me.

My advice for aspiring women leaders is to keep working hard and learning as much as you can. It is important you are noticed for your abilities but definitely don’t be afraid to ask questions. What has helped me through my career was to find someone who was willing to mentor me. It is also important to attend or get involved with industry events and network with people as much as you can. You never know when those relationships will be helpful.

For supervisors and mentors, be willing to share information and encourage these women in their journey.

Sharon Broude Geva, Director of Advanced Research Computing, University of Michigan, Chair of the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation (CASC), Director of Chapters, Women in HPC

I started out as what was then called a “real-time systems developer”, working on systems to acquire and analyze large amounts of streaming data. I then worked on digital signal-processing projects for sonar and radar, writing pipelined microcode and integrating software and hardware for DSPs. With Computer Science and Chemistry undergraduate degrees and a background in programming and hardware, a PhD in Computational Chemistry using supercomputers for simulating quantum mechanical effects in molecular systems perfectly tied together many of the things I was interested in. At the time, academic research groups tended to build and manage their own clusters, so the hands-on administration and learning aspects were pretty intense. However, it allowed students to gain insight into the nuts and bolts of building systems and the opportunities and limitations of architecture choices.

At this point in my career, I see my contributions as being more focused on workforce development, advanced research computing ecosystem development, and facilitation of broad and diverse solutions to catalyze and support computational- and data-enabled research. Much of this involves working with the “people aspects” of HPC and research.

It is important for supervisors and mentors to understand that meeting the goal of having a diverse workforce doesn’t end with hiring or with creating a diverse workforce pipeline. Retention must be a key concern, especially when the goal is to retain people who are members of underrepresented groups. Leaders, mentors, and supervisors need to ask themselves every day whether they are allowing biases to impact their interactions and actions. This includes their view of what people they manage or mentor want or can do, what their skills are or career progression should be, how they are being encouraged to participate and provide input, and how performance is being evaluated. We all have unconscious biases, so this also applies to supervisors, leaders, and mentors who are themselves members of underrepresented groups.

For aspiring women leaders in HPC: go for it! Research shows again and again that women are prone to think they need to meet every qualification listed (or perceived) in a job description. After decades of hiring for a wide array of positions, I can say I still haven’t met a candidate that meets all the qualifications listed. And yet, I’ve found fabulous people to hire, and we have always adjusted the position to benefit from the qualifications they do have.

Misbah Mubarak – Assistant Computer Scientist, Argonne National Laboratory, Workshop Chair, Women in HPC @ SC19

I grew up in Pakistan, where being a medical doctor or teacher are the typical career options for girls. However I was passionate about technology so I took a computer science course in high school, which was being offered for the first time. That is where I learned about supercomputers and asked myself, “How and when can I get a chance to work with a supercomputer?” It turned out that to specialize in HPC, I had to develop expertise in computer science first and there were only two colleges in my hometown offering an undergraduate degree in computer science. I got a scholarship for one of them but the college was a long way from my home and there wasn’t any good lodging available for girls. I ended up commuting by bus for four hours every day for the four years of my computer science college degree. That experience made me a stronger person. After college I was fortunate to earn a graduate school scholarship at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the U.S., which has its own supercomputer. RPI is where I started working on HPC in collaboration with DoE national laboratories and there was no looking back from there.

I am excited to contribute towards the hardware/software co-design of supercomputers, which is important in making exascale computing possible. With future HPC architectures being increasingly heterogeneous, I am interested in exploring how these systems will evolve to support HPC, AI and big data applications.

My advice for aspiring women leaders: have faith in your abilities and learn to enjoy the process of overcoming obstacles in your career. You can achieve whatever you set your mind on, no matter how unrealistic it sounds at first.

About the Author

As the lead for the Outreach, Diversity, and Education team in the Computational & Information Systems Lab at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, AJ Lauer (Twitter, LinkedIn) directs the Summer Internships in Parallel Computational Sciences (SIParCS) program and works with her team and labmates to create outreach efforts that inspire future generations of HPC users. She is a doctoral candidate in the Interdisciplinary Leadership EdD program at Creighton University where her dissertation work will focus on women leaders in HPC.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

On the Spack Track @SC19

December 5, 2019

At the annual supercomputing conference, SC19 in Denver, Colorado, there were Spack events each day of the conference. As a reflection of its grassroots heritage, nine sessions were planned by more than a dozen thought leaders from seven organizations, including three U.S. national Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and Sylabs... Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced computing technologies for the AI and exascale era. "Over th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Debuts 7nm 2nd-Gen Graviton Arm Processor

December 3, 2019

The “x86 Big Bang,” in which market dominance of the venerable Intel CPU has exploded into fragments of processor options suited to varying workloads, has now encompassed CPUs offered by the leading public cloud serv Read more…

By Doug Black

Medical Imaging Gets an AI Boost

December 3, 2019

AI technologies incorporated into diagnostic imaging tools have proven useful in eliminating confirmation bias, often outperforming human clinicians who may bring their own prejudices. Another issue slowing progress is t Read more…

By George Leopold

Ride on the Wild Side – Squyres SC19 Mars Rovers Keynote

December 2, 2019

Reminding us of the deep and enabling connection between HPC and modern science is an important part of the SC Conference mission. And yes, HPC is a science itself. At SC19, Steve Squyres’ opening keynote recounting th Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

AI Needs Intelligent HPC infrastructure

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized entire industries and enables humanity to solve some of the most daunting challenges. To accomplish this, it requires massive amounts of data from heterogeneous sources that is processed it new ways that differs significantly from HPC applications. Read more…

NSCI Update – Adapting to a Changing Landscape

December 2, 2019

It was November of 2017 when we last visited the topic of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). As you will recall, the NSCI was started with an Executive Order (E.O. No. 13702), that was issued by President Obama in July of 2015 and was followed by a Strategic Plan that was released in July of 2016. The question for November of 2017... Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

On the Spack Track @SC19

December 5, 2019

At the annual supercomputing conference, SC19 in Denver, Colorado, there were Spack events each day of the conference. As a reflection of its grassroots heritage, nine sessions were planned by more than a dozen thought leaders from seven organizations, including three U.S. national Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and Sylabs... Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced com Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Debuts 7nm 2nd-Gen Graviton Arm Processor

December 3, 2019

The “x86 Big Bang,” in which market dominance of the venerable Intel CPU has exploded into fragments of processor options suited to varying workloads, has n Read more…

By Doug Black

Ride on the Wild Side – Squyres SC19 Mars Rovers Keynote

December 2, 2019

Reminding us of the deep and enabling connection between HPC and modern science is an important part of the SC Conference mission. And yes, HPC is a science its Read more…

By John Russell

NSCI Update – Adapting to a Changing Landscape

December 2, 2019

It was November of 2017 when we last visited the topic of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). As you will recall, the NSCI was started with an Executive Order (E.O. No. 13702), that was issued by President Obama in July of 2015 and was followed by a Strategic Plan that was released in July of 2016. The question for November of 2017... Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Tsinghua University Racks Up Its Ninth Student Cluster Championship Win at SC19

November 27, 2019

Tsinghua University has done it again. At SC19 last week, the eight-time gold medal-winner team took home the top prize in the 2019 Student Cluster Competition Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

How the Gordon Bell Prize Winners Used Summit to Illuminate Transistors

November 22, 2019

At SC19, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) awarded the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. The Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This