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Monday, November 16, 2020

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Advanced Computing and COVID-19: It’s More Than HPC

The More Than HPC Plenary will highlight the efforts of the community in fighting COVID-19, where HPC and advanced computing play a central role. Four world-wide experts working on complementary areas of research and development will briefly introduce their perspective on the topic before engaging in an interactive and passionate discussion.

Prof. Rommie E. Amaro will discuss how biological simulation and modeling using HPC are powerful tools in understanding mechanisms of viral infection and fighting COVID-19. In contrast, Prof. Alessandro Vespignani will discuss the role of epidemiological modelling and prediction in understanding population level dynamics and disease spread. Dr. Ilkay Altintas will cover the role of Big Data and the Internet of Things, and how these can be employed, for example, in raising early alerts. Prof. Rick L. Stevens will look at the problem from an Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning perspective and discuss the transformational potential of these new approaches.

This collection of topics and experts provides an ideal opportunity to explore the role of multidisciplinary approaches for tackling not only COVID-19, but also other pandemics in the future.


David Abramson is the director of the University of Queensland Research Computing Centre. Together with colleague Toni Pena, from the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, they have assembled a team to discuss the role of advanced computing in COVID-19 research.

Dr. Antonio J. Peña holds a BS+MS degree in Computer Engineering (2006), and MS and PhD degrees in Advanced Computer Systems (2010, 2013), from Universitat Jaume I, Spain. He is currently a Sr. Researcher at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), where he leads the “Accelerators and Communications for HPC” team. Antonio is a former Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow and Juan de la Cierva Fellow. He is a recipient of the 2017 IEEE TCHPC Award for Excellence for Early Career Researchers in HPC. His research interests in the area of runtime systems and programming models for HPC include resource heterogeneity and communications.


Rommie Amaro is a professor and endowed chair of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego. Her research focuses on development of computational methods in biophysics for applications to drug discovery. Most recently she is leading efforts to build the first complete all-atom model of the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus envelope, its exterior component.

Alessandro (Alex) Vespignani is a joint appointment between the College of Science, the College of Computer and Information Science, and the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University in Boston,Massachusetts. His research activity is focused on the study of “techno-social” systems, where infrastructures composed of different technological layers are interoperating within the social component that drives their use and development. Recently he published a finding that “If rich countries monopolize COVID-19 vaccines, it could cause twice as many deaths as distributing them equally”

Ilkay Altintas is a data and computer scientist, and researcher in the domain of high-performance computing applications. Altintas currently serves as chief data science officer of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), at the University of California, San Diego. Her research objective is the development of methods, cyberinfrastructure and workflows for computational data science and its translation to practical applications. Her WIFIRE Lab aims to be an all hazards knowledge cyberinfrastructure, becoming a management layer from the data collection to modeling efforts including COVID-19, and has achieved significant success in helping to manage wildfires.

Rick Stevens is Argonne’s Associate Laboratory Director for Computing, Environment and Life Sciences. Stevens is interested in the development of innovative tools and techniques that enable computational scientists to solve important large-scale problems effectively on advanced scientific computers. Stevens has been applying machine learning techniques to a wide range of problems, including assisting the search for COVID drug targets.

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More Than HPC Plenary Schedule

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