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Reaching Out to Users: Q&A with Subhashini Sivagnanam

Subhashini Sivagnanam is coordinating this year's SDSC Summer Institute. She also manages the Academic Associates Program and edits the SDSC Thread newsletter in the User Services group.

You are running SDSC's Summer Institute this summer, what's the theme?

Sivagnanam: The theme of the 12th Annual Summer Institute is "Taking Your Science to the Next Level: On the Path to Petascale Computing." The week-long program will focus on providing solutions for the common limitations faced by scientists and engineers in scaling and optimizing their high-performance computing codes and also in handling extreme datasets.

Based on the theme, the sessions will include tutorials on performance characterization of codes on different machines, optimization techniques, profiling, debugging parallel codes, data mining, using the Storage Resource Broker, using visualization tools, case studies, and hands-on experience with participants' own projects.

How do SDSC staff work with the Summer Institute participants?

Sivagnanam: During the course of the Institute, several structured laboratory sessions have been organized, where the attendees will be grouped and paired with an SDSC expert who will provide one-on-one advice during the sessions. Prior to the Institute, our staff have interacted with many Institute participants at various levels via help desk consultation and the SAC program. The Summer Institute will provide a great opportunity for SDSC staff to meet these exceptional researchers in person.

You've been working in SDSC User Services on the Academic Associates Program. Tell us a little about this program and how you work with researchers and educators.

Sivagnanam: The Academic Associates Program (AAP) provides University of California researchers with access to a vast range of computational and storage resources at SDSC. Through this program, researchers with little or no high performance computing experience can learn to use our resources and in turn apply for larger National Science Foundation peer-reviewed allocations. The AAP offers technical support and consulting services to all of its users. We conduct a yearly workshop exclusively for AAP users from both Northern and Southern California campuses. We also provide 1-2 day onsite training classes and workshops to introduce researchers to SDSC's computing, storage, and visualization resources. As the coordinator, I regularly interact with UC campus users and also the campus administrators to discuss ways to improve the program and also to advertise the program better.

What's your background?

Sivagnanam: I have a master's degree in computer engineering from North Carolina State University . My graduate study focused on Computer Architecture and Verification. Prior to joining SDSC, I worked as a research assistant at the Center for Embedded Systems Research at NCSU and at the State of North Carolina Climate Office .

What do you do for fun?

Sivagnanam: I love traveling and hiking. I have visited 24 states in the US so far and would like to cover the remaining states in the near future. Last winter, I had the opportunity to visit the last frontier with my family to watch the start of the Iditarod dogsled race. I find that traveling helps remind me how important it is not to let life slide by, to get as much as you can from the experience.