In a week marked by a 30-year milestone, researchers who are breaking new ground came face to face Thursday with the computational experts helping them explore uncharted territory.
A day after the Ohio Supercomputer Center celebrated its 30th anniversary jointly with the Ohio Academic Recources Network (OARnet), the Center held its Statewide Users Group (SUG) Autumn Conference. SUG is a volunteer group composed of the scientists and engineers who provide OSC's leadership with program and policy advice and direction to ensure a productive environment for research.
SUG attendees speak to the poster contestants during Thursday's Autumn Conference. Photos by Jamie Abel.
Wednesday's 30th Anniversary celebration at The Ohio State University's Fawcett Center brought members of OSC and OARnet together with members of their collective stakeholder communities.
"This SUG conference meshed nicely with (Wednesday's) 30th Anniversary Celebration," said Brian Guilfoos, HPC client services manager at OSC. "We got very nice comments from those who were at both. The SUG meeting went really well. We had a great turnout and got good feedback from faculty, so it was a very successful conference overall."
About 100 attendees gathered at the Ohio Technology Consortium building for SUG, which featured a keynote address from Bryan C. Carstens, Ph.D., associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology at Ohio State. Participants presented 25 posters and 12 flash talks as part of the conference, with winners receiving 5,000 resource units of time on OSC systems while runners-up gained 2,500 resource units.
"The research being displayed is very interesting," Guilfoos said. "The SUG meeting is a wonderful opportunity to see what people are doing with the resources and to better understand the achievements being with our services."
Carstens is a longtime client of OSC. His keynote discussion presented his research into the protection of biodiversity. His presentation discussed his thesis that publicly accessible databases contain millions of data points that are relevant to the discovery and protection of biodiversity, but are currently underutilized.
"Despite millions of data points, few large-scale global analyses have been attempted because the synthesis of results across the thousands of research studies that collected these data, each using different methods and forms of analysis, is a daunting and time-consuming task," Carstens said. "My lab proceeds by repurposing existing data using automated data analysis on processor nodes hosted by the Ohio Supercomputer Center."
Using software that has largely been developed by lab postdoctoral researcher Tara Pelletier, Carstens presented results from several pilot studies. In terms of the number of species and the taxonomic breadth of these species, the analyses presented by Carstens are some of the largest of their kind to date. They suggest that information contained within existing biodiversity data can be extracted via parallel analyses and predictive machine learning approaches.
Flash talk and poster competitions followed Carstens' address.
Alex Trazkovich, an Ohio State student, won the flash talk competition for his presentation "Effects of Copolymer Sequence on Adsorption and Dynamics Near Nanoparticle Surfaces in Simulated Polymer Nanocomposites." R. Keith Slotkin, also a student at Ohio State, was the runner-up for his flash talk titled "Bioinformatics: From Reference Genomes to Individuals using Existing Datasets."
Mohammad Shahriar Hooshmand, another Ohio State student, won the poster competition for his project, titled "Oxygen Diffusion around (10-12) Twin Boundary in Ti."
"This is the main project for my Ph.D., and winning this is really motivating for me to do the rest of the work ahead of my thesis," said Hooshman, who has attended and competed at SUG three times. "I really like the atmosphere here because we can communicate about the experiences we're having and know exactly what is going on with the systems we're using all the time."
There were two runners-up in the poster competition: Dan Gil, a student at Case Western Reserve University, whose project was titled, "The Solvophobic Effect," and Lianshi Zhao, an Ohio State student, whose project was titled, "Large-scale Computation for Plasma Opacities."