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HPC Research and Education News for the Week of October 12, 2015 Sponsored by XSEDE

HPC in the News


Supercomputing Coral's Race to Beat Heat

Corals can genetically adapt to warmer waters from climate change, scientists say in a study that relied on bioinformatic analysis with supercomputers. Reef-building corals can withstand a small degree of warming. This study with polyps of staghorn coral Acropora millepora across the Great Barrier Reef in Australia found the first evidence that coral pass heat-tolerant genes to their offspring, which can possibly allow a reef to beat the heat. Coral reefs around the world face a race against time. Globally, average temperatures of the surface sea waters where most corals live are rising. The symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae that give coral their dark color convert sunlight to food. When waters become as little as one-two degrees Celsius too hot, zooxanthellae abandon coral and leave behind a 'bleached'-looking and severely weakened reef. A prior 2014 study with computer models found that coral reefs have slowly evolved to keep one step ahead of deadly heat if their waters warm gradually. To read further, please visit

MSU Nets Part of $5m Big Data Grant from National Science Foundation

Michigan State University is teaming up with the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Indiana University and Van Andel Research Institute to implement a high-speed infrastructure that will allow scientists to access and share their research across the region with unprecedented ease. This new Multi-Institutional Open Storage Research InfraStructure (MI-OSiRIS) initiative was launched through a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation and will enable researchers to collaborate their efforts in making new discoveries. MI-OSiRIS will break new ground in data storage and networking by utilizing advanced data storage software and hardware to open up new frequencies on the existing high-speed network. The project will test the effectiveness of so-called software defined storage coupled with advanced networking. This will allow relatively inexpensive, off-the-shelf hard drives to be programmed with intelligent software. This can automatically manage data in ways that make it easier to copy, analyze, change, search and share. To read further, please visit

Early Registration Deadline Extended: 2nd INTERNATIONAL WINTER SCHOOL ON BIG DATA (BigDat 2016)
February 8-12, 2016 - Bilbao, Spain

Registration Deadline Extended – October 19, 2015

BigDat 2016 will be a research training event for graduates and postgraduates in the first steps of their academic career. With a global scope, it aims at updating them about the most recent advances in the critical and fast developing area of big data, which covers a large spectrum of current exciting research and industrial innovation with an extraordinary potential for a huge impact on scientific discoveries, medicine, engineering, business models, and society itself. Renowned academics and industry pioneers will lecture and share their views with the audience. For more information and to register, please visit

UNCF and Lilly Endowment Inc. Announce $50 Million Initiative to Better Prepare Students for Jobs

UNCF recently announced that Lilly Endowment Inc. has committed $50 million to create the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative. Through this program, UNCF will award competitive grants to four-year historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly black institutions (PBIs) to help students gain the knowledge, preparation, insight and skills needed for meaningful employment in a technology-driven, global economy. UNCF will announce application guidelines for the program in December. Although requirements differ for HBCUs and PBIs, 87 public and private four-year institutions across the country are eligible to apply. The UNCF Career Pathways Initiative, which will provide our institutions the working capital they need to increase employment outcomes for our students. To learn more, please visit

XSEDE News From Partners And Friends


Blue Waters Allocations Applications Now Available
Application Deadline – November 13, 2015

In 2013, a new NSF-funded petascale computing system, Blue Waters, was deployed at the University of Illinois. The goal of this project and system is to open up new possibilities in science and engineering by providing computational capability that makes it possible for investigators to tackle much larger and more complex research challenges across a wide spectrum of domains.  The purpose of this solicitation is to invite research groups to submit requests for allocations of resources on the Blue Waters system. Proposers must show a compelling science or engineering challenge that will require petascale computing resources. Proposers must also be prepared to demonstrate that they have a science or engineering research problem that requires and can effectively exploit the petascale computing capabilities offered by Blue Waters.  Proposals from or including junior researchers are encouraged, as one of the goals of this solicitation is to build a community capable of using petascale computing. For more information, please visit

SDSC Upgrades Cloud Computing and Storage Services

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, has made significant upgrades to its cloud-based storage system to include a new range of computing services designed to support science-based researchers, especially those with large data requirements that preclude commercial cloud use, or who require collaboration with cloud engineers for building cloud-based services. The upgrades to SDSC Cloud, which debuted in late 2011 as one of the first large-scale academic deployments of cloud storage in the world, offers a unique storage service to educational and industry partners. The object-based storage system provides a highly scalable solution with flexible access methods and enhanced durability, while providing exceptional performance using high-speed 10 gigabit (Gb) connectivity at a fraction of the costs of other service providers. To read further, please visit

University of Tennessee in Knoxville’s College of Engineering to Announce $150 Million Fundraising Goal

The College of Engineering of University of Tennessee in Knoxville, the college, now in its 177th year, is making the drive to secure its continued success and has raised $101 million of the target since the effort informally kicked off in 2012. The campaign also serves as a way for the college to emphasize its value to the university, the region, and the state. While the goal itself is unprecedented for the college, the effects of reaching it will be both immediate and long-lasting. Money being raised through the campaign has gone to scholarships, faculty endowments and professorships, laboratory spaces, and building renovations and improvements. It’s part of an overall push by UT toward becoming a Top 25 public university that has seen the college add both the John D. Tickle Engineering Building and the Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building, renovate large portions of both the Nathan W. Dougherty Engineering Building and Perkins Hall, and plan for a nuclear engineering building more befitting of that department’s Top 5 national status. To read more, please visit


Call for Papers and Participation


Call for Participation: NCSA’s CADENS Seeks Visualization Data
Submission Deadline – November 30, 2015

Does your research generate, analyze, and/or visualize data using advanced digital resources? Visualizations of your work could reach millions of people, amplifying its greater societal impacts! CADENS is looking for scientific data to visualize or existing data visualizations to weave into larger documentary narratives in a series of fulldome digital films and TV programs aimed at broad public audiences. CADENS (The Centrality of Advanced Digitally ENabled Science) is a National Science Foundation-supported project to increase digital literacy and inform the general public about computational and data-enabled discovery. It is led by Donna Cox, director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, which has created data-driven visualizations seen by millions of people in productions for planetariums, museums, and science television programs. For more information, please visit


Upcoming Conferences, Webinars, and Seminars  


4th National Data Service Consortium Workshop
October 18-21, 2015 – San Diego, California

Join us for the 4th meeting of the National Data Service (NDS) Consortium. Our theme for the meeting will be The Changing Ecosystem of Research Data: Thinking on a National Level. The organizing committee is now contacting leaders in the research data community for plenary presentations. As speakers are confirmed, we will update the website. The first day, Monday October 19, will feature a special morning tutorial for developers on NDS Labs as well as open hacking in Labs in the afternoon. There will also be opportunities for pilot project teams and other committees to meet, develop, and plan for on-going activity. For more information, please visit

2015 IEEE International Conference on Big Data
October 29 – November 1, 2015 – Santa Clara, California 

Advanced manufacturing includes not only the assembly of products on the shop floor but also a wide variety of complex processes involving quality control, predictive maintenance, resource management, controlling, and customer engagement. Thus, an advanced manufacturing system requires capabilities and technologies for designing and improving the overall system performance through diagnostic and prognostic assessment based on (big) data analytics. The use of (big) data analytics in manufacturing can lead to new insights and knowledge discovery that can help enhance sustainability, productivity, flexibility, reduce costs, gain competitive advantages and, thus, enable sustainable and agile manufacturing. While there has been a plethora of research and publications in emergent domains such as recommendation systems, social media, and health care, ironically, there is a marked absence of a special interest research group for big data analytics and data-mining in the long established domains such as manufacturing. For more information, please visit

Ohio Supercomputer Center Workshop - Computing Services to Accelerate Research and Innovation
October 28, 2015 - Columbus, Ohio

This two hour workshop will provide an introduction to OSC resources and how to access them. Topics include:

·           High performance computing concepts.

·           Hardware and software available at OSC.

·           Getting allocations and accounts.

·           How to connect and log in.

·           How to move data on and off the systems.

·           Introduction to batch processing.

·           Storage and file systems.

Optional hands-on participation:

Participants who bring a laptop computer will be able to connect to the supercomputers during the workshop.  OSU wireless is available in the seminar room.  OSC workshop accounts will be provided. For more information, please visit

XSEDE HPC Monthly Workshop - Big Data
November 3, 2015 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

XSEDE offers training classes to teach users how to maximize their productivity and learn new technologies for using XSEDE services. The training classes focus on systems and software supported by the XSEDE Service Providers, covering programming principles and techniques for using resources and services effectively. For more information, please visit

SDSC Bioinformatics Boot Camp
November 5-6, 2015 – San Diego, California

This two-day accelerated training session will start with a crash course on workflow technology and a hands-on session for using the locally developed open source Kepler workflow system.  We will then explore common computing platforms including Sun Grid Engine, NSF XSEDE high performance computing resources, the Amazon Cloud and Hadoop. We will explain how workflow systems can help with rapid development of distributed and parallel applications on top of any of these platforms. We will then discuss how to track data flow and process executions within these workflows (i.e. provenance tracking) including the intermediate results as a way to make workflow results reproducible. We will end with a session on using bioKepler to learn how to build and share scalable bioinformatics workflows in Kepler.  We will provide lab sessions at the end of each section of the course to apply the explained concepts to real application case studies. For more information, please visit


Research News From Around the World


Virginia Tech, ORNL Computing - Mining Information

Harvesting oil, mitigating subsurface contamination, and sequestering carbon emissions share a common thread—they deal with multiphase flows, or situations where materials are flowing close together in different states (solids, liquids, or gases) or when the flow is comprised of materials that have a common state with a different chemical makeup that prevents mixing (oil and water). A research team led by Virginia Tech’s James McClure is using computational resources at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility to improve computational models for subsurface multiphase flow calculations. The team can essentially take 3-D micro-CT imagery of geologic systems and put them in motion. Thus far, the team has been able to gain unprecedented insight into the intersection of disparate phases, such as oil and water, move and interact in porous rock below the Earth’s surface. To read further, please visit

Extreme Events in Computational Turbulence
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

In the last decade or so, massive computations of turbulence performed by solving the exact equations of hydrodynamic turbulence have provided new quantitative data and enhanced our understanding. This paper presents results from the largest such computations, to date, devoted to the study of small scales. We focus on “extreme events” in energy dissipation and squared vorticity (enstrophy). For the Reynolds numbers of these simulations, events as large as 105 times the mean value are observed, albeit rarely. The structure of these extreme events is quite different from that believed previously. The major theme of this and related work is that huge fluctuations exist in hydrodynamic turbulence and that they have basic consequences to turbulence (as is the case in other nonlinear fields). To read more, please visit

NCAR on the Forefront of Engineering for Disaster

A new NCAR-facilitated group aims to develop the know-how and tools for building resilient systems that can recover smoothly when catastrophic weather and climate events strike. The group, the Engineering for Climate Extremes Partnership (ECEP), is building relationships with experts from a broad array of sectors, from engineering to business, government, academia, and American Indian tribal and community leadership. The common thread is concern for the mounting toll taken by extreme weather events, which is expected to worsen with climate change. Central to ECEP is the Global Risk, Resilience, and Impacts Toolbox, or GRRIT. The toolkit will support disaster risk management and adaptation with a hazard database and software products ranging from applications that can be used on a smartphone to complex risk assessment and decision-making tools. NCAR scientists plan to release a beta version of GRRIT early next year and will continue developing it over time. To read further, please visit

Department of Energy Selects UC Berkeley to Lead U.S.-China Energy and Water Consortium

UC Berkeley, in partnership with UC Irvine and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was awarded a five-year, multi-million dollar international research consortium that tackles water-related aspects of energy production and use. Three additional UC campuses – UC Davis, UC Merced and UCLA – and Massachusetts-based Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)-US are also part of the collaboration. The consortium, announced by the U.S. Department of Energy, is one of several technical tracks under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC), which was launched in 2009 by President Barack Obama and former Chinese President Hu Jintao to accelerate the transition to an efficient, lowcarbon economy while mitigating the longterm threat of climate change. The energy-water track was announced in November 2014. The Berkeley-led team is called the Clean Energy Research Center for Water Energy Technologies (CERC-WET). To read more, please visit

USC Skeptical Scientist Studies the Latest Findings on Mars

The red planet made a splash in the media last week, thanks to the release of Ridley Scott’s film The Martian and NASA’s announcement of new evidence for the existence of water flowing on the surface of Mars. While humans — Matt Damon or otherwise — are still many years from reaching Mars in person, their robotic proxies have proven fit for the journey. Employing high-resolution imaging technology on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA scientists recently were able to analyze light waves returned from seasonal dark lines on Martian cliffs. The results offered strong evidence for the ebb and flow of water. But does that mean there’s life? Kenneth Nealson, an astrobiologist who worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology before coming to USC in 2001, always approaches new research about potential life on Mars with caution. To read further, please visit


Educator News, Conferences, and Opportunities


Indiana University Awarded $1.66 Million Grant from Department of the Navy for STEM Education

Indiana University has been awarded a $1.66 million, five-year grant from the Department of the Navy to develop a robust and innovative model to train diverse STEM researchers at IU, in partnership with an alliance of minority-serving institutions. The initiative is aimed at strengthening the pipeline of graduates with the preparation and interest needed to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math by inspiring, engaging and educating the next generation of scientists and engineers. IU’s minority-serving institutions STEM model will capitalize on existing strengths of the university’s STEM academic departments, including the addition of engineering degrees at IU Bloomington; the individuated nature of education at minority-serving institutions; an engaged, proactive faculty; and the university’s success in developing specialized research programs with diverse participants. To read further, please visit

The ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing
Submission Deadline – January 1, 2016 

The ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing recognizes talented high school students in computer science. The intent of the program is to promote and encourage the field of computer science, as well as to empower young and aspiring learners to pursue computing challenges outside of the traditional classroom environment. Eligible applicants for the ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing include graduating High School Seniors residing and attending school in the United States. Four (4) winners will each be awarded a $10,000 prize and a trip to the ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing Reception in February 2016 (location TBD). The $10,000 prizes will be awarded in a manner that enables awardees to avoid US federal income tax liability. For more information, please visit

World's Largest Education Hackathon – Register Today!
October 23-25, 2015 -
San Mateo Event Center, San Mateo, California

Some of the best employment opportunities for students are discovered through participation in hackathons. Industry representatives are on hand and scouting for students with exceptional talent to work for them as interns.  Hack-a-thons are intensive and enriching learning experiences for students. If you know students who love developing technology products, like mobile apps, please share this opportunity with them. Some teachers offer extra credit for classes going as a group. If you can’t code, don’t worry! Learning is a big part of the Hackathon experience! There will be programming workshops and lots of mentors to answer any questions that students might have. The best teams have a balance of technical, design and product talents. Students under 18 will need parent or guardian’s permission to attend and the event organizers contact the student if accepted with more details. Please visit for more information. Important: Students should use this passcode when they register: “hacking Alfred”.


Student Engagement and Opportunities


Donations Help Create 'Supercomputer' For Students

The word to keep in mind is no longer “plastics.” It’s “parallel.” Parallel computing is the wave of the future in science and engineering, and thanks to donations from Intel and Dell Corporations, Cornell students will get hands-on experience with the technology. Intel is donating 15 Xeon Phi 5110P circuit boards, each of which holds 60 interconnected processors, or “cores,” along with memory. Installed in servers provided by Dell at a substantial discount to support a course, they will create a high-performance parallel computing cluster with 996 cores. The system, to be housed in the basement of Gates Hall, will be used for the fall 2015 course, Applications of Parallel Computers. They are in wide use in academic and commercial computing installations, he noted. He estimated that the total value of the Intel and Dell donations is almost $80,000. Parallel computing is a way of getting around the laws of physics. Electrons can only move so fast around a chip, and they generate heat in the process, limiting how fast a chip can be made to run. To read more, please visit

NCAR’s Super Science Saturday
November 7, 2015 - Boulder, Colorado

Please join us for Super Science Saturday on November 7, 2015 from 10 am - 4 pm. This annual event at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) brings kids and adults together to explore hands-on activities, think about new ideas, and learn about science. This year's theme is "LIGHT"!  Activities and Events:

·       Hands-on activity tables

·       Experiments from CSU's Little Shop of Physics

·       Science Shows

·       Modular robotics workshop for kids

·       NCAR 3D Visualization Lab Demos

·       NCAR Wizards Showcase

For more information, please visit

Integrative Computational Education and Research Traineeship
June 6 - August 6, 2016 – Austin, Texas

Application Starts – November 1, 2015
Application Deadline – March 1, 2016

This summer in Austin, 10 undergraduates majoring in science and engineering disciplines will be immersed in training at The University of Texas at Austin to be the next generation of ‘game changers'. Participants will explore grand challenges such as climate modeling, weather forecasting, drug delivery, brain mapping, energy exploration and understanding the human genome, to name a few. Participants will receive a stipend for work, travel stipend, and housing at The University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, travel grants to present research at the annual XSEDE conference will be available to selected participants.

·       Computational training in a multi-disciplinary cohort using some of the world's most advanced computational resources. Training led by TACC researchers with expertise in computation

·       Integration into a research team including pairing with a mentor/researcher and graduate mentor working on a computational project

·       Application seminars, training workshops, and STEM Outreach to K-12 and the public (explaining and demonstrating the contribution of HPC to society)

·       Team-building exercises that will prepare participants for the workplace of the future

·       Final presentations to cohort, University and TACC mentors

·       Poster presentation, technical report, and publication opportunities

For more information, please visit


Computational Science News of Interest


NASA Crowdsources Mars Spacesuit Durability Testing, Offers $15,000 in Prizes

NASA is run by a lot of smart people, but sometimes the smartest thing you can do is ask for some help. That’s what NASA is doing in its quest to design the next generation of space suit technology. NASA is asking the public to come up with ideas on how to test prototype Mars space suit materials for durability without actually going all the way to Mars. The agency plans to give away $15,000 in prizes for the best ideas. We’re all familiar with the current space suit design, which has been used by astronauts for decades. The problem with these pieces of equipment is that they’re optimized for low-Earth orbit. They have some damage resistance, but they aren’t built to be worn while walking around on the surface of a planet, or anywhere really — there’s no walking at all in low-Earth orbit. They’ll need new suits. Any future Mars mission would likely include many extravehicular activities (EVAs). If you manage to safely land a crew on mars after months in space, they won’t just take one stroll on the surface and go home. To read further, please visit

Cloud Computing Finally Gets Some Startups

For years, getting into the business of renting out extra computing power through the cloud has been a bit like getting into the business of nuclear power. First, you have to spend a few hundred million dollars on ginormous hardware and the pricey software to run it. Next, you have to hire a team of Ph.D.s to make sure the equipment always runs pretty much perfectly, because one screw-up means a customer—probably a big corporate IT department—leaves forever. That formula is changing as cloud startups such as DigitalOcean and Backblaze begin to compete for customers with the likes of, Microsoft, and Google. The startups have managed to underbid the giants in certain markets by keeping expenses relatively low, either by writing their own versions of the software needed to run a cloud or by handcrafting the hardware needed to house one. To read further, please visit

Google Must Consider ‘Unintended Consequences’ Of AI Says Machine Learning Expert

Technology companies including Google must consider the “unintended consequences” when investing in AI, an eminent machine learning professor and founder of multimillion startup, Dato, warns. The ethics surrounding machine learning is a hot topic. Google, which this morning announced it had invested an undisclosed sum in a top German AI research centre will instate an ethics board to monitor its AI efforts. It made the promise after buying Cambridge-based machine learning startup, Deepmind, last year.  It hasn’t revealed who will sit on the board, but the move is indicative of the public mood after tech figureheads like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk claimed AI would “overtake humans” within the next 100 years and consumers have wised up on tech company’s privacy and data collection policies. There is reason to tread carefully now that machine learning is maturing. The combination of Google’s worldwide data pool (combining the world’s location, browsing history, personal details and preferences, for example) and sophisticated algorithms could spell the end of privacy if not properly regulated. To read more, please visit


Social Media


Facebook Will Let You Buy Products from Retailers' Pages

You'll soon be able to buy a lot more stuff on Facebook. The social network is testing a shopping experience that allows users to buy items directly from business' Facebook pages. The new shopping feature, first reported by BuzzFeed, will allow retailers to turn their Facebook pages into mini storefronts outside of their main websites. Facebook confirmed the new shopping features to Mashable Wednesday, saying it's currently being tested among a small number of users and a handful of retail and e-commerce companies. On mobile, the shopping features will appear in a new "shopping" section on the page, as pictured in the mockup image, below, while on desktop the shopping section will appear as a separate tab on the page in the same area where the Timeline, About, Photos and other tabs are currently located. In the shopping section, companies will show off products in a format that appears to be similar to the way photos are laid out. To read more, please visit

Jack Dorsey Chosen To Be Next Twitter CEO, Report Says

Jack Dorsey, Twitter TWTR +1.72% cofounder and the microblogging site’s interim CEO, is expected to be officially named as the company’s permanent CEO as early as Thursday, according to a report in the tech blog Re/code. Citing unnamed sources Re/code said it is believed that Dorsey, 38, will also continue to serve as CEO of micropayments company Square, which he founded. Twitter and Square declined to comment for this article. Twitter’s stock spiked briefly after Re/code published its report. The news, if confirmed, will come as no surprise to Silicon Valley, which has been waiting for Twitter to announce its next leader since former CEO Dick Costolo stepped down on July 1 amid heat from investors over slowing user growth. Soon after Costolo’s departure, sources close to the company have been saying increasingly that Dorsey would get the job and that he wanted to lead both companies. The other top candidate was Twitter’s head of revenue Adam Bain. But various reports suggested that Bain didn’t want to compete with Dorsey for the job. To read further, please visit


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