Science in Parallel

Krell Institute

Science in Parallel focuses on people in computational science and their work simulating climate and the cosmos, understanding viral infections, building alternative energy strategies and more – using high-performance computing (HPC). Host Sarah Webb interviews researchers about their career paths and motivations. Our conversations cover topics such as artificial intelligence, integrating emerging hardware, the effects of remote work, promoting diversity and inclusion, and the role of creativity in computing. Our show is for curious, science-oriented listeners who like technology. You don’t need a deep background in science and computing to learn from our guests. Science in Parallel has been shortlisted twice for the Publisher Podcast Awards: for 2022 Best Technology Podcast and for 2023 Best Science and Medical Podcast. It is produced by the Krell Institute and is a media outreach project of the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF) program. read less
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Episodes

Season 4, Episode 2 -- Casey Berger: Choose Your Own Multidimensional Career
Oct 11 2023
Season 4, Episode 2 -- Casey Berger: Choose Your Own Multidimensional Career
Traditional science career advice often urges people to specialize and become the best at one activity. But that perspective can undervalue interdisciplinary researchers and other polymaths who can see connections between and beyond science and engineering fields. This episode’s guest, Casey Berger, describes how she has navigated this second approach, embracing her many interests, such as science, computing, teaching and storytelling, to make her mark as a physicist and data scientist and as a fiction author. In the second episode of our podcast series on creativity in computing, Casey talks about her path to physics and computing via Hollywood. She describes the challenges and opportunities of interdisciplinary work, how she pursues her many interests and her advice for building a sustainable, joyful life and career. You’ll meet: Casey Berger is an assistant professor of physics and data science at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2020 and was supported by a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF).  She earned bachelor’s degrees in physics from Ohio State University and in philosophy and film production from Boston University. Casey is also a science fiction author. Her latest novel Sister from the Multiverse, part of the Choose Your Own Adventure series, was published in October 2023. This conversation was recorded in July 2023 at the Annual Program Review of the DOE CSGF in Washington, D.C.
Season 4, Episode 1 -- Creativity in Climate Modeling
Sep 27 2023
Season 4, Episode 1 -- Creativity in Climate Modeling
Season 4 of Science in Parallel centers around creativity and computing, starting with an interview about climate modeling. At this nexus of physics, earth science, mathematics and computing, researchers are also racing against the clock to accurately predict how global climate is shifting before the changes happen. Pulling all the scientific pieces together and communicating those results so that others can use them are significant creative challenges—ones that both Tapio Schneider and Emily de Jong of California Institute of Technology have embraced. In our conversation, Tapio and Emily describe how both the science and societal impact of climate modeling motivate them, how outdoor activities and music shape their perspectives, and how they view creativity both inside and outside the lab. Later in the episode, Tapio shares his experience as a science advisor to the ClimateMusic Project—an artists’ collaboration that’s producing music and video pieces that explore climate change and solutions to the climate crisis. You’ll meet: Tapio Schneider is a professor of environmental science and engineering at Caltech. He’s a member of the Climate Modeling Alliance (CLiMA) a team of scientists, engineers and applied mathematicians from Caltech, MIT and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on a new earth system model that uses computatational and data-science tools to harness Earth observations and make more accurate climate predictions. He spoke about that research at the 2023 Annual Program Review of the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF) program in July. Emily de Jong is a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering at Caltech working in Tapio’s research group. She is a DOE CSGF recipient, who completed her undergraduate degree at Princeton University in 2019.
Season 2, Episode 6 -- Pushing Limits in Computing and Biology
Oct 26 2022
Season 2, Episode 6 -- Pushing Limits in Computing and Biology
Science in Parallel’s season two concludes with a conversation about answering important questions in biology and medicine with leadership class supercomputers, including urgent issues that came up during the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll hear from Anda Trifan of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Amanda Randles of Duke University. Starting as a chemist, Anda is completing a Ph.D. in biophysics and quantitative biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she has studied molecular strategies that make certain cells turn cancerous. In early 2020, she joined an Argonne National Laboratory team that pivoted to working on the pandemic, and she modeled how SARS-CoV-2 infects cells, how it replicates and how it spreads through aerosols. Amanda is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University with roots in physics and computer science. Much of her work now focuses on large-scale simulations of how blood flows through a person’s unique network of vessels. During the pandemic, her team applied their expertise to calculations that could help physicians figure out how to split ventilators between patients who weren’t exact matches, a critical problem in early 2020 when these devices were in short supply. Both Anda and Amanda completed Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowships. Between them, they have worked on a total of five projects that have been finalists for either the ACM Gordon Bell Prize or the Special Prize for COVID-19 research. Adding to the excitement of their pandemic work: They both navigated the at-home adventure of raising very young children during lockdown. They talk about what drives them, the challenge of working at the cutting edge of HPC and biology and medicine, and their advice for other researchers, particularly other women in science.
Season 2, Episode 2 -- Future of Work (part 2): Adapting to Change
Jun 8 2022
Season 2, Episode 2 -- Future of Work (part 2): Adapting to Change
In Season 2 of Science in Parallel, we’re examining how pandemic shutdowns have reshaped computational science workplaces. In our last episode we focused on the effects of virtual work and how the Exascale Computing Project’s Strategies for Working Remotely panel series fostered communication and creativity. This episode brings in additional stories from graduate students, a professor and an early career researcher at a DOE national lab about the challenges and benefits of remote work. You’ll meet: Episode one guests Elaine Raybourn of Sandia National Laboratories and Jerry Wang of Carnegie Mellon University. Jason Torchinsky is a Ph.D. student in applied mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a third-year DOE CSGF recipient. They work on methods for applying parallel computing in climate models, particularly integrating disparate models to simulate the Madden-Julian Oscillation, an area of high and low moisture that moves around the Earth’s atmosphere every 30 to 60 days. Hilary Egan joined the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Computational Science Center as a data scientist in June 2020. Hilary completed her Ph.D. in astrophysics and planetary science at the University of Colorado Boulder and was a DOE CSGF recipient from 2014 to 2018. Hilary works on AI for scientific computing across applications including materials science, data center efficiency, and building retrofits. Laura Nichols is a second-year DOE CSGF recipient and a Ph.D. student in computational solid-state physics at Vanderbilt University. She uses quantum mechanics to model how defects in semiconductor devices are activated and lead to degradation. Laura is incorporating that model into her group’s code that describes defect-related processes such as scattering and electron capture.
Season 2, Episode 1 -- Future of Work (part 1): Communication Conundrum
Jun 1 2022
Season 2, Episode 1 -- Future of Work (part 1): Communication Conundrum
In our first two episodes of Science in Parallel’s Season 2, we’ll be talking about how the pandemic pivot to remote work marks a turning point in workplace structure for many computational scientists.  We talk with computational scientists who worked remotely about what they struggled with, what functioned well and the lessons they’ll take into the future. In this first part, we’ll also focus on the social science of how people experienced remote work. In part one, you’ll meet: Jerry Wang is an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He was a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship recipient from 2014 to 2018 while pursuing his Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jerry works on particle-based simulations to study soft and active matter, for applications ranging from nanoscale devices to pedestrian mobility. Elaine Raybourn is a social scientist in Sandia National Laboratories’ Applied Information Sciences Center. She is also an institutional principal investigator for one of the DOE Exascale Computing Project’s many individual research teams: Sandia’s interoperable design of extreme-scale application software (IDEAS) team. IDEAS focuses on team of teams, software developer productivity and software sustainability.  From the episode: Elaine has organized the ECP’s Strategies for Working Remotely panel series since 2020. Check out their slides and videos about topics such as setting up a home office space, parenting, working with interns and hybrid work. The increased use of video conferencing during pandemic lockdowns highlighted the problem of degraded communication, a concept that is commonly called “Zoom fatigue.” You can also read more from Elaine about how ECP members experienced remote work and how they coped with the loss of office whiteboards. A version of the interview with Elaine Raybourn is also available as an ASCR Discovery article.