OLCF Names Bronson Messer New Director of Science

June 4, 2020

June 4 — Bronson Messer—a computational astrophysicist, Distinguished Scientist in the Scientific Computing and Theoretical Physics groups at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and a former Jeopardy! champion—has been named the new director of science for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF).

As director of science, Messer will be responsible for the scientific outcomes of the OLCF’s user programs. The OLCF, a DOE Office of Science User Facility at ORNL, was established in 1992 with the mission to accelerate scientific discovery and engineering progress by providing world-leading computational and data capabilities as well as high-performance computing expertise. Messer will help set the OLCF’s strategy for pursuing such open-science research and facilitating the DOE’s scientific missions.

Bronson Messer

“Ultimately, we’re responsible for implementing systems, policies, platforms—the whole computational ecosystem that will actually allow people to get science done,” Messer said. “At the OLCF, this can mean science that’s primarily data-driven or uses AI or uses large-scale simulation of big physical systems. I want to make sure that they’re all done at the requisite level of quality.”

Messer’s predecessor as OLCF director of science, Jack Wells, became director of the newly formed Office of Strategic Planning and Performance Management at ORNL on January 1.

“We’re very happy to welcome Bronson into this role, following in Jack Wells’ footsteps,” said Georgia Tourassi, director of the National Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS) at ORNL. “During his tenure as director of science, Jack provided outstanding service while expanding OLCF’s reach across many scientific domains. His organizational commitment and inclusive approach to diverse computational research communities have been unparalleled.”

The director of science is the principal point of contact for OLCF users who are scientists from academic research institutions, industrial labs, or other federal agencies. Messer pledges to continue nurturing the sense of trust among these researchers “that’s been built upon them knowing we have their best interests at heart,” he said. Messer aims to further cultivate this confidence by marshalling the OLCF’s HPC experts to assist users in fully utilizing the facility’s supercomputer assets, helping triage problems on the backend to ensure their codes run smoothly, and making careful decisions that balance users’ needs with the facility’s resources.

“Our mission is to field true leadership-scale compute capabilities, but they’re finite. In a world where you have finite resources, invariably the OLCF is going to have to make judgments,” Messer said. “I think it’s important that everybody who’s a user, or a prospective user of the facility, has trust in those judgements. The way to instill that trust is to make it clear to them that we understand what they’re doing, we understand how they do it, and we also understand what would get in their way. And I think the director of science has to help lead the charge on all of those fronts.”

Messer got his first job at ORNL as a 16-year-old freshman at the University of Tennessee (UT) during the summer of 1987. He was responsible for operating an ellipsometer to measure the polarization of light coming off materials, such as rubies, intended for use in optics; it was driven by an Apple II computer with a program written in Basic. Since then, computers (much more powerful ones) have been ever-present in his education and work as an astrophysicist, including the Cray T3E at Goddard Space Flight Center’s summer institute or the Intel Paragon XP/S 150 at ORNL where he worked as a graduate research assistant in the late ’90s.

After receiving his PhD in physics from UT in 2000, Messer became a postdoctoral research associate at ORNL, and then in 2003 joined the University of Chicago as a research associate at the Flash Center for Computational Science. Finally, in 2005, he returned to ORNL as an R&D associate and has held numerous titles since then, including acting director of science for the NCCS and acting group leader for the lab’s Scientific Computing Group.

As a scientist, Messer has primarily focused on the explosion mechanisms and phenomenology of supernovae (both thermonuclear and core-collapse), especially neutrino transport and signatures, dense matter physics, and the details of turbulent nuclear combustion. He is currently the DOE Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research’s principal investigator for the Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing “Toward Exascale Astrophysics of Mergers and Supernovae” project studying the phenomenology and observational consequences of core-collapse supernovae. Meanwhile, he’s also contributing to the Exascale Computing Project’s ExaStar program, which is building the next-generation code for explosive stellar astrophysics in a variety of settings, including core-collapse supernovae and neutron star mergers.

Even as he undertakes his new position as OLCF director of science, Messer said he will continue his own research—with some help.

“The good news is I have several students and postdocs working with me currently, and it’s already to the point where I try to mentor them as best I can and they do a lot of the hard work,” Messer said.

Although he’ll be immersed in managing OLCF user programs and their scientific outcomes, Messer said the director of science position ultimately reflects on his basic love of science. Understanding different scientific domains and how their research is conducted has always fascinated him, he said.

“I admit freely to being a bit of a science groupie—always have, that’s why I’m a scientist myself—and I enjoy the inside story about how the science actually gets done,” Messer said. “This is a great job because you get to learn a lot of science really, really fast.”

UT-Battelle LLC manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for DOE’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.

Source: Coury Turczyn, OLCF

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!

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: Fugaku, Congress, De Novo Design & More

July 2, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time last year, IBM announced open sourcing its Power instructio Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Career Notes: July 2020 Edition

July 1, 2020

In this monthly feature, we'll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it's a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we've got Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

Supercomputers Enable Radical, Promising New COVID-19 Drug Development Approach

July 1, 2020

Around the world, innumerable supercomputers are sifting through billions of molecules in a desperate search for a viable therapeutic to treat COVID-19. Those molecules are pulled from enormous databases of known compoun Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC-Powered Simulations Reveal a Looming Climatic Threat to Vital Monsoon Seasons

June 30, 2020

As June draws to a close, eyes are turning to the latter half of the year – and with it, the monsoon and hurricane seasons that can prove vital or devastating for many of the world’s coastal communities. Now, climate Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Maxar Builds HPC on AWS to Deliver Forecasts 58% Faster Than Weather Supercomputer

When weather threatens drilling rigs, refineries, and other energy facilities, oil and gas companies want to move fast to protect personnel and equipment. And for firms that trade commodity shares in oil, precious metals, crops, and livestock, the weather can significantly impact their buy-sell decisions. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This year is no different though the conversion of ISC to a digital Read more…

By John Russell

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This yea Read more…

By John Russell

Racism and HPC: a Special Podcast

June 29, 2020

Promoting greater diversity in HPC is a much-discussed goal and ostensibly a long-sought goal in HPC. Yet it seems clear HPC is far from achieving this goal. Re Read more…

Top500 Trends: Movement on Top, but Record Low Turnover

June 25, 2020

The 55th installment of the Top500 list saw strong activity in the leadership segment with four new systems in the top ten and a crowning achievement from the f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC 2020 Keynote: Hope for the Future, Praise for Fugaku and HPC’s Pandemic Response

June 24, 2020

In stark contrast to past years Thomas Sterling’s ISC20 keynote today struck a more somber note with the COVID-19 pandemic as the central character in Sterling’s annual review of worldwide trends in HPC. Better known for his engaging manner and occasional willingness to poke prickly egos, Sterling instead strode through the numbing statistics associated... Read more…

By John Russell

ISC 2020’s Student Cluster Competition Winners Announced

June 24, 2020

Normally, the Student Cluster Competition involves teams of students building real computing clusters on the show floors of major supercomputer conferences and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Hoefler’s Whirlwind ISC20 Virtual Tour of ML Trends in 9 Slides

June 23, 2020

The ISC20 experience this year via livestreaming and pre-recordings is interesting and perhaps a bit odd. That said presenters’ efforts to condense their comments makes for economic use of your time. Torsten Hoefler’s whirlwind 12-minute tour of ML is a great example. Hoefler, leader of the planned ISC20 Machine Learning... Read more…

By John Russell

At ISC, the Fight Against COVID-19 Took the Stage – and Yes, Fugaku Was There

June 23, 2020

With over nine million infected and nearly half a million dead, the COVID-19 pandemic has seized the world’s attention for several months. It has also dominat Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers


Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

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…

By Doug Black

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

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