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!

IBM Quantum Challenge 2021 – Let the Programming Begin!

May 17, 2021

Looking to sharpen or perhaps simply explore your quantum programming skills? On Thursday, IBM fires up its IBM Quantum Challenge 2021 marking the fifth anniversary of IBM Quantum Experience cloud services and the 40th  Read more…

Q&A with Altair CEO James Scapa, an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2021

May 14, 2021

Chairman, CEO and co-founder of Altair James R. Scapa closed several acquisitions for the company in 2020, including the purchase and integration of Univa and Ellexus. Scapa founded Altair more than 35 years ago with two Read more…

HLRS HPC Helps to Model Muscle Movements

May 13, 2021

The growing scale of HPC is allowing simulation of more and more complex systems at greater detail than ever before, particularly in the biological research spheres. Now, researchers at the University of Stuttgart are le Read more…

Behind the Met Office’s Procurement of a Billion-Dollar Microsoft System

May 13, 2021

The UK’s national weather service, the Met Office, caused shockwaves of curiosity a few weeks ago when it formally announced that its forthcoming billion-dollar supercomputer – expected to be the most powerful weather and climate-focused supercomputer in the world when it launches in 2022... Read more…

AMD, GlobalFoundries Commit to $1.6 Billion Wafer Supply Deal

May 13, 2021

AMD plans to purchase $1.6 billion worth of wafers from GlobalFoundries in the 2022 to 2024 timeframe, the chipmaker revealed today (May 13) in an SEC filing. In the face of global semiconductor shortages and record-high demand, AMD is renegotiating its Wafer Supply Agreement and bumping up capacity. Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Numerical weather prediction on AWS Graviton2

The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is a numerical weather prediction (NWP) system designed to serve both atmospheric research and operational forecasting needs. Read more…

Hyperion Offers Snapshot of Quantum Computing Market

May 13, 2021

The nascent quantum computer (QC) market will grow 27 percent annually (CAGR) reaching $830 million in 2024 according to an update provided today by analyst firm Hyperion Research at the HPC User Forum being held this we Read more…

Behind the Met Office’s Procurement of a Billion-Dollar Microsoft System

May 13, 2021

The UK’s national weather service, the Met Office, caused shockwaves of curiosity a few weeks ago when it formally announced that its forthcoming billion-dollar supercomputer – expected to be the most powerful weather and climate-focused supercomputer in the world when it launches in 2022... Read more…

AMD, GlobalFoundries Commit to $1.6 Billion Wafer Supply Deal

May 13, 2021

AMD plans to purchase $1.6 billion worth of wafers from GlobalFoundries in the 2022 to 2024 timeframe, the chipmaker revealed today (May 13) in an SEC filing. In the face of global semiconductor shortages and record-high demand, AMD is renegotiating its Wafer Supply Agreement and bumping up capacity. Read more…

Hyperion Offers Snapshot of Quantum Computing Market

May 13, 2021

The nascent quantum computer (QC) market will grow 27 percent annually (CAGR) reaching $830 million in 2024 according to an update provided today by analyst fir Read more…

Hyperion: HPC Server Market Ekes 1 Percent Gain in 2020, Storage Poised for ‘Tipping Point’

May 12, 2021

The HPC User Forum meeting taking place virtually this week (May 11-13) kicked off with Hyperion Research’s market update, covering the 2020 period. Although Read more…

IBM Debuts Qiskit Runtime for Quantum Computing; Reports Dramatic Speed-up

May 11, 2021

In conjunction with its virtual Think event, IBM today introduced an enhanced Qiskit Runtime Software for quantum computing, which it says demonstrated 120x spe Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base cl Read more…

Fast Pass Through (Some of) the Quantum Landscape with ORNL’s Raphael Pooser

May 7, 2021

In a rather remarkable way, and despite the frequent hype, the behind-the-scenes work of developing quantum computing has dramatically accelerated in the past f Read more…

IBM Research Debuts 2nm Test Chip with 50 Billion Transistors

May 6, 2021

IBM Research today announced the successful prototyping of the world's first 2 nanometer chip, fabricated with silicon nanosheet technology on a standard 300mm Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base cl Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

CERN Is Betting Big on Exascale

April 1, 2021

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) involves 23 countries, 15,000 researchers, billions of dollars a year, and the biggest machine in the worl Read more…

HPE Launches Storage Line Loaded with IBM’s Spectrum Scale File System

April 6, 2021

HPE today launched a new family of storage solutions bundled with IBM’s Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition parallel file system (description below) and featu Read more…

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

Saudi Aramco Unveils Dammam 7, Its New Top Ten Supercomputer

January 21, 2021

By revenue, oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco is one of the largest companies in the world, and it has historically employed commensurate amounts of supercomputing Read more…

Quantum Computer Start-up IonQ Plans IPO via SPAC

March 8, 2021

IonQ, a Maryland-based quantum computing start-up working with ion trap technology, plans to go public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) merger a Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

AMD Launches Epyc ‘Milan’ with 19 SKUs for HPC, Enterprise and Hyperscale

March 15, 2021

At a virtual launch event held today (Monday), AMD revealed its third-generation Epyc “Milan” CPU lineup: a set of 19 SKUs -- including the flagship 64-core, 280-watt 7763 part --  aimed at HPC, enterprise and cloud workloads. Notably, the third-gen Epyc Milan chips achieve 19 percent... Read more…

Can Deep Learning Replace Numerical Weather Prediction?

March 3, 2021

Numerical weather prediction (NWP) is a mainstay of supercomputing. Some of the first applications of the first supercomputers dealt with climate modeling, and Read more…

Livermore’s El Capitan Supercomputer to Debut HPE ‘Rabbit’ Near Node Local Storage

February 18, 2021

A near node local storage innovation called Rabbit factored heavily into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s decision to select Cray’s proposal for its CORAL-2 machine, the lab’s first exascale-class supercomputer, El Capitan. Details of this new storage technology were revealed... Read more…

African Supercomputing Center Inaugurates ‘Toubkal,’ Most Powerful Supercomputer on the Continent

February 25, 2021

Historically, Africa hasn’t exactly been synonymous with supercomputing. There are only a handful of supercomputers on the continent, with few ranking on the Read more…

GTC21: Nvidia Launches cuQuantum; Dips a Toe in Quantum Computing

April 13, 2021

Yesterday Nvidia officially dipped a toe into quantum computing with the launch of cuQuantum SDK, a development platform for simulating quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized in his keynote, Nvidia doesn’t plan to build... Read more…

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

The History of Supercomputing vs. COVID-19

March 9, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a greater challenge to the high-performance computing community than any before. HPCwire's coverage of the supercomputing response t Read more…

Microsoft to Provide World’s Most Powerful Weather & Climate Supercomputer for UK’s Met Office

April 22, 2021

More than 14 months ago, the UK government announced plans to invest £1.2 billion ($1.56 billion) into weather and climate supercomputing, including procuremen Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire