Research IT Staff a big presence at PEARC 2018

Image from PEARC 2018

Patrick Schmitz, Aaron Culich, Rick Jaffe, and Jason Christopher co-authored this post with Amy Neeser

The annual Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing (PEARC) conference was originally designed for High Performance Computing managers and users but has since expanded to provide a forum for discussing challenges, opportunities, and solutions among many types of research facilitators, including librarians. Research IT was well represented at the 2018 conference in Pittsburgh, PA, sharing expertise and experience with the community as well as connecting with and learning from others who are working with cyberinfrastructure and research computing. 

Patrick Schmitz, Director of Berkeley Research Computing (BRC), co-facilitated the workshop Models and Practices for Building Diverse Research Computing Teams alongside Jackie Milhans (Northwestern). The group worked together to define diversity in various contexts, to clarify motivations and goals of diversity, and to explore productive practices for hiring and managing diverse teams. Workshop participants shared a set of tools and resources supporting equity and inclusion, and discussed adapting these to research computing (see slides).

Jason Christopher, Research Computing Architect, co-presented the paper “Research Facilitation on a Budget” (co-authored by Aaron Culich, Quinn Dombrowski, Deb McCaffrey [University of Michigan], Amy Neeser & Andrew Wiedlea [LBNL]). The paper described how BRC developed a consulting program by employing PhD students and implemented IT project management practices such as tracking various aspects of research engagements. Jason also led a related Birds of a Feather discussion, Scaling the Services of Research Computing Teams, which focused on how to scale services on a budget. 

Rick Jaffe, Research Data Management Consultant, and Aaron Culich, Research Computing Architect, helped lead the workshop Library and Research Computing Efforts and Tools to Improve Data Sharing and Archiving with Tom Morrell (Caltech), and Jon Petters (Virginia Tech) (see slides). The workshop was co-authored by Amy Neeser, Research IT’s Research Data Management Program Manager, Reid Boehm (Johns Hopkins University), Yasmeen Shorish (James Madison University), and Susan Borda (University of Michigan). The workshop explored the intersection of libraries and research computing organizations, and how these groups can work together to provide infrastructure and best practices to support the full research lifecycle. 

Aaron Culich also led the Hands-on Tutorial Deploying Portable Research and Learning Environments on Commercial Clouds and XSEDE. (see slides part 1 and part 2). He also helped lead a BoF On Launching a Research Computing Q&A Site using StackExchange and Discourse (see live Q&A site; and a workshop PEEQ @ PEARC: Practice & Experience in Emotional Intelligence (EQ) about emotional intelligence and mindfulness in research computing (see slides and resources). 

Research IT staff attended many more sessions on topics ranging from using virtual reality to teach high school students about molecules, to supporting research that uses photogrammetry. As PEARC continues to grow and expand its community to libraries and other partners who help support research computing and data, Research IT will continue to learn from and share their expertise and perspectives with this community.