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July 7, 2014

Four Additional PhD Students to Receive Blue Waters Graduate Fellowships

July 7 — Four additional computational science PhD students have been selected to receive 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.

Six graduate fellows were named earlier this spring. Because of the large number of qualified applicants, NCSA sought and was awarded additional fellowship funding from the National Science Foundation, enabling the Blue Waters project to support a total of 10 graduate fellows.

  • Matthew Bedford, physics, University of Alabama, Huntsville. Bedford plans to implement a new numerical model for partially ionized plasmas in which the core solar wind and pickup ions (PUIs) are treated separately. The model will be used to analyze plasma and magnetic field behavior in the heliosphere.
  • Alexandra Jones, atmospheric science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. One of the most important roles clouds play in the atmosphere is in redistributing radiative energy from the sun and that is emitted from the Earth and atmosphere. However, radiative transfer is generally modeled crudely because of the perceived computational expense. Jones will use an enhanced version of the I3RC community 3D Monte Carlo Radiative Transfer model to produce benchmark simulations of 3D radiative with unrivaled accuracy.
  • George Slota, computer science and engineering, Penn State University. Slota plans to use Blue Waters to investigate how best to use highly parallel heterogeneous CPU-GPU systems to accelerate graph analytic algorithms, such as those that find frequently occurring substructures or latent relationships within graphical data. Through the development of techniques to tackle these problems, he hopes that it will be possible to analyze massive graphs with billions of vertices and edges.
  • Varvara Zemskova, marine sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) distributes heat and nutrients crucial to biological activity throughout the global ocean, and it is important to understand its mechanism and sensitivities to changing global conditions. Zemskova’s research focuses on understanding the energetics of the MOC. Previously she applied a framework for calculating various terms in the ocean energy cycle to observational data and the general circulation model. Using Blue Waters, she will apply the same framework to horizontal convection, fluid flow forced by differential surface buoyancy forcing that often is studied as a simplified model of the MOC.

All 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.

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

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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