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Meet Two Women in HPC Revolutionizing the Fields of Green Energy and Medicine

This March we are proud to profile more than 30 women in HPC.  Our feature this week celebrates the female leaders who have championed supercomputing efforts for their respective fields.

Part Two of a Four-Part Series

Today, women continue to make groundbreaking contributions to HPC, from developing cutting-edge software and hardware to leading research teams and advancing the field as a whole. These women have overcome obstacles and challenges to make their mark in a field and are happy to share their stories to help inspire those seeking a career in supercomputing. This week, we celebrate two women who have harnessed the power of HPC to revolutionize the fields of green energy and medicine.

Please read on to learn more about these two fantastic female leaders here in our blog series, but the highlights do not stop here! Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram to see all 31 of our profiles as they unfold over the month of March.

Unshakable Belief in HPC’s Potential

Having attended a girls-only high school I was never exposed to programming. There probably wasn’t that much interest so naturally they didn’t think to offer a course. So when I entered into my engineering studies to pursue green energy technology I found myself surrounded by boys who seemed to have a lot of experience with computers, which initially freaked me out. However, the fact was that my desire to work in engineering and contribute to tomorrow’s green energy trumped any fear I had, so I stuck with it!

Dr. Melissa Kozul

Research Fellow in Extreme-Scale CFD, University of Melbourne

Over time I have developed an unshakable belief that using computers is the key to solving the energy problems of the future. Yet I had to get over my ‘imposter syndrome’ around believing I somehow wasn’t up to the task of programming and realize that I had much to contribute. Doing this has allowed me to push myself and the software and hardware I use to the cutting edge. I conduct some of the biggest fluid dynamics simulations in the world, which are transitioning from the Summit to the Frontier cluster over 2023. These simulations are highly detailed and can’t be run on anything other than a leadership-scale supercomputer. Recently, after almost 10 years working on such machines, I finally got to see one in person. I found it inspiring to learn more about all the components and systems that make up a supercomputer. The experience left me feeling more excited than ever about their potential to help solve some of society’s greatest challenges.

It’s important for anyone interested in this field to stay the course and know that everything you need to know is out there for you to learn. HPC is accessible and computing centers provide all the support needed irrespective of prior exposure to programming. I wouldn’t want any young people out there to have false beliefs about who is ‘good at this stuff’. The truth is, every motivated person can be and there are many important problems to solve!

I Had to Wait for HPC to Catch Up

If there is one thing my work on Virtual Humans at CompBioMed has taught me, it is that people are just as impatient as I am. I look forward to the time when we can utilize a digital twin of ourselves to help diagnose and treat our own illnesses with vastly reduced risk of side effects. My own work in HPC has been a long time coming. In fact, it’s been almost twenty years. I realized when I started out in biochemistry and molecular biology that computational modeling would be the future, and today we’re finally beginning to see what HPC can do in this space. The wait has been completely worthwhile. However, as I see HPC’s convergence into biology stirring up new questions–from ethics and how to handle data to how you communicate your findings and its society impact. Sure, it does mean that there are more problems we need to solve, but I like to think these are opportunities to stretch beyond our current capabilities and bring more people into the fields of health and medicine.

Andrea Townsend-Nicholson

Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UCL and CompBioMed

For my field, this is an opportunity to take a lot of the diversity we have cultivated in our field and cross it over into computational sciences. With HPC now firmly in our capabilities I’ve been able to take my knowledge to biology students and cross-pollinate them into researchers and medical students who are coming out with degrees that integrate medicine and biology with digital skills and HPC! When I started teaching students to use HPC at UCL there were over 50% of female graduating from a biological sciences degree in the UK in comparison to the 17% graduating from Computer Sciences. Not to mention in biology you often need to be in a lab, but with computational work you can be anywhere. This opens up really flexible job opportunities – and more opportunities for diversity.

I’m proud to be opening up new opportunities in HPC. I firmly believe that when people see the diversity of jobs and people, they feel much more comfortable joining in.

A Continuing Series

Be sure to check in with us next week as we continue our Women’s History Month series. Read all our blog profiles at the tag below.

You don’t have to wait to learn more about the talented female leaders in our community. Simply check and subscribe to our LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram feeds to see even more profiles!  

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