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Eighteen SC20 Lead Student Volunteers Announced

student volunteersChristine Harvey (MITRE Corporation), SC20 Students@SC Chair, and Karlyn Harrod (University of Notre Dame), SC20 Lead Student Volunteer Chair, are proud to announce the 18 lead student volunteers—all former SC student volunteers.

Harrod explained that before making the decisions, each student’s application was reviewed by multiple members of the Students@SC committee.

“After all reviews were complete, a smaller subset of the applicants were selected based off their overall review scores,” she explained. “Our lead student volunteers were selected for encompassing excellent leadership skills and their desire to be engaged and give back to the HPC community.”

The student leads will work directly with the committee and attend several virtual organizational meetings prior to the conference. They also will get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes of the conference as they will help select and train the student volunteers and mentor new students. Due to travel uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, all international students will participate remotely. Local students who want to volunteer remotely also will be provided with this opportunity.


The SC20 Lead Student Volunteers



SCinet also is honored to welcome Sushma Yellapragada (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) and Mohammed Tanash (Kansas State University) as student leads this year. Kevin Hayden (Argonne National Laboratory), SC20 SCinet Chair, is excited to have these student leads with the team once again.

“It is great to have these experienced students returning to the SCinet team to help guide new students through the unique intricacies of building this incredibly fast network where experimenters can show off their research,” Hayden said. “This year, with a hybrid conference, we will be expecting more of our students, and especially student leads, to navigate the challenges of the virtual aspect of the conference. Sushma and Mohammed are intelligent, personable, and engaging and will help make our SCinet build very successful.”


Get to Know Three Leads


Nigel Tan: An Experienced Onsite Lead

nigel tanFor Nigel Tan, SC20 marks his fifth year as an SC student volunteer and his second as a student lead volunteer.

“The community is what brings me back each year,” he explained. “Meeting new people, old friends, and learning the latest advances in HPC straight from the authors is the biggest draw for me. The connections and advice I’ve gotten at SC has already had a huge influence on my education and career path. I first attended SC as a senior undergraduate and wouldn’t have continued on to graduate school were it not for the advice and experiences gained at SC. I even met my current research group, Global Computing Laboratory, at SC a year or two before joining GCL in 2019.”

Needless to say, Tan can be considered an SC connoisseur. Over four years, he has had the opportunity to attend most of the student programs, as well as the technical programs.

“My favorite event is probably the workshops,” Tan said. “They aren’t as involved as the tutorial sessions or as technical as the paper sessions but strike a nice balance with technical content. Poster sessions are a close second. They are always a good place to learn about the most recent advances in HPC.”

He believes that this year will bring new challenges with the novelty of SC20 in a hybrid setting. He is looking forward to working with the committee as a lead.

“Lead volunteers work with the committee to ensure the conference goes smoothly. SC20 will be a big change from past conferences so I’m eager to learn about all the changes that we will make to adapt to the situation,” Tan added. “I think SCinet will be facing the biggest challenges with the hybrid conference. SCinet has traditionally built the fastest network in the world for each conference. With the hybrid conference I’m expecting a different set of challenges as priorities adjust to ensuring that the virtual attendees maintain strong connections to the network.”

This year, Tan expects that SC will confront new challenges, especially related to creating a sustainable path for remote and virtual settings. He explained that having a collaborative medley of academia and industry working on such solutions is an ideal fit to pave that path.

“I’m optimistic with regards to the presentation quality as most attendees have connections to industry and academia,” he noted. “Universities all over the world have shifted to online courses and have encountered many of the problems virtual attendees are likely to have. Industry is in a similar position albeit not necessarily to the same scale. These experiences will help smooth things out. I am a bit worried about more active sessions where discussion is a key part of the event. But having had many video conferencing meetings for courses and research, I think the community is up to the challenge.”


Paula Olaya Garcia: A First-Time Lead Volunteer

paula olayaPaula Olaya Garcia was prompted to apply as a student volunteer in 2018 by her advisor, Dr. Michela Taufer (University of Tennessee), who also served as SC19 General Chair. After participating as a general student volunteer for two years, Olaya Garcia is looking forward to serving as a student lead for the first time at SC20.

“Each time I attended SC I earn invaluable experience, made friends, as well as contacts. It has enabled me to grow in my academic path,” she said. “I have been a witness of all the hard work provided by the committee members and volunteers. This amazing conference is only possible due to their effort. Now that I have some experience, I look forward to offering my skills and contribute to making SC happen this year. In doing so, I look forward to bringing together the HPC community and in helping generate the collaboration and innovation that SC is known for. I also look forward to working through the challenges of bringing the community together this year in an unprecedented hybrid virtual/physical conference.”

SC’s “magic” has been invaluable to Olaya Garcia as she recounted her most memorable encounter: “When the news about the first picture of a black hole occurred—and the fact that a woman in science made it possible—it created in me a lot of admiration for Dr. Katie Bouman. Her research was changing the world, and it is something of which we all dream. I couldn’t attend her talk at SC19, and that was a huge disappointment for me. However, a few hours later, I was running to my next volunteer shift when I saw her. I decided to approach her. We talked for about 10 minutes, and she advised me about graduate school and told me about her experience and her next goals. I still cannot believe that I had the opportunity to meet and be advised by someone I truly admire. This was all possible because of SC and its endless opportunities.”

SC has provided Olaya Garcia with multiple contacts, ideas, guidance, and support. She aspires to be a scientist and uses SC as her source of inspiration. SC has provided her with internship and collaboration leads, new ideas for her research, names and tools that she can use, and new HPC and academia perspectives. Now, as a first-time lead, she seeks to assure other general student volunteers will have their own “magical” experiences and encounters.


Jonas Posner: A First-Time Virtual Lead Volunteer

jonas posnerJonas Posner, a doctoral student at the University of Kassel (Germany), will join SC20 as a remote participant. This challenge is motivating Posner, who is quite familiar with SC as he has participated as a student volunteer since 2017. In addition to working as a volunteer, he presented a paper in 2018 and was a student lead volunteer in 2019. He values the feeling of contributing to a great event and “particularly likes the fact that the lead student volunteers are involved in the organizational process early,” citing video conferences even before the conference, regular reviews of student volunteer applications, and meetings directly after the conference. Posner continues to return to SC because each conference has been beneficial to him on many levels.

“It has an unbelievable dimension and provides a lot of great opportunities,” he explained. “I really like the paper presentations, discussing with researchers, but also the social part of the conferences. Over a short time, I have met many interesting people from around the world, and I continue to be in touch with most of them. All of this has broadened my horizon and considerably impacted my research studies. Last year, I was matched with my current mentor in the Mentor-Protégé mixer, and we frequently organize Skype meetings. He shares a lot of useful advice with me that is very beneficial to me for my short- and long-term objectives. I think that this is the best thing that has happened to me at SC so far.”

This year, Posner is eager to be part of the remote team and is full of creative ideas that he is eager to share with his committee, as well as help implement to make a hybrid SC20 conference successful.

“Now that SC has gone hybrid, I am looking forward to November again,” he said. “I like the idea of a mixed conference, and believe that there are many benefits to a virtual setting. It will be more inclusive because anyone will be able to easily attend from their home regardless of their financial capacities, such as travel costs that are often prohibitive to foreigners. This will also solve one big issue that most face while physically attending SC: there are too many interesting events competing with each other. This year, we will be able to watch interesting events on demand that may include chat sessions. I also imagine permanent topic-based channels that could remain in place after the conference. This would inevitably lower the inhibition threshold, especially for students, to ask questions and start discussions. In addition, it would also make it easier to stay in touch with people as contact information could be exchanged more easily.”

Christine Baissac-Hayden
SC20 Students@SC Communications Liaison (Easy English 4 All)

Christine Baissac-Hayden created Easy English 4 All, which provides multilingual communication tools for clients from diverse backgrounds in the renewable energy, medical, defense, marine science, and film industries. Easy English 4 All provides English as a Second Language (ESL), French, Spanish and Japanese tutoring from certified native-speaking teachers and organizes international student exchanges with personalized objectives and goals.

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