Published December 2023

Dear SDSC Staff, Collaborators, Partners, and All Friends:

I hope you enjoyed a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Now we’re at the threshold of the December holiday break, and many from SDSC are still basking in the glow of our successful participation at the international Supercomputing Conference, SC23, in Denver last month.

SC is an annual networking event that brings together thousands of leaders and experts—from scientists and engineers, researchers and educators, to programmers and developers—in high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis, thus linking all of these technologies at a unique trade show. The nearly week-long event features numerous sessions, speakers and engagement opportunities. What makes SC23 different from anything else I ever attend is the dual role it plays for both industry and academia. I personally have not experienced anything quite like it, and I look forward to it each year.

Giving presence to SDSC’s exhibit booth were the dynamic graphics of our communications team’s Ben Tolo, with the theme of “AI Innovation, Insight, and Impact…For a Better World.” The theme was complemented by the careful planning and implementation of our Programs & Events team led by Susan Rathbun, and skillfully supported by Cindy Wong and Chante Powell, who hosted a robust slate of presentations in support of the theme. For example, we featured a session that highlighted our leadership in wildfire management and mitigation and our support of atmospheric river research. Many thanks also to Trevor Walker for his technical prowess in the architecture of our booth and our audio-visual delivery.

Among the pleasures of the conference was SDSC’s receipt of two awards from HPCwire, which recognized SDSC for its contributions to cloud-based HPC and HPC-enabled scientific achievement. We also enthusiastically welcomed a special guest to our booth—Ashley Atkins, who, as of Dec. 1, became SDSC’s new chief of staff. She joins Rick Wagner, who assumed the role of chief technology officer in early October, as the newest members of the Director’s Office.

I invite you to look for the special feature section below that spotlights SDSC’s overall SC23 experience, including photos and videos diligently produced by our multimedia lead Jake Drake.

As you may recall from our past news coverage and previous issues of Innovators, the NSF established the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) Task Force in 2021, in support of the National AI Initiative Act of 2020, which called for the NSF, in coordination with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), to form the task force. SDSC’s former director Michael Norman was assigned to the force task, which was tasked with investigating the feasibility of establishing and sustaining a NAIRR. Recently, the NSF contacted a handful of SDSC project leads to assist with the NAIRR pilot project. Further developments are expected in January, so I will share more details as they become available.

SDSC is part of a team of data scientists from General Atomics, UC San Diego, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Sapientai tasked by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a Fusion Data Platform for advancing high-priority fusion research, supported by a three-year, $7.4 million grant. Additionally, there are two new Fusion Energy Sciences/Department of Energy awards granted to UC San Diego for AI in fusion. One of them involves SDSC and AI leading researchers in Computer Science and Engineering on campus. The other grant does not involve SDSC, but the UC San Diego PI is the Center for Energy Research’s Christopher Holland.

Finally, we held our annual SDSC Holiday Party Dec. 13 at the Faculty Club on campus. It was a fitting gathering for celebrating our achievements together as we conclude 2023 and anticipate an exciting new year. I wish you and yours all the best as you enjoy the holidays together and ring in 2024. Many thanks for your continued support of the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

Happy holidays,
Frank Würthwein
SDSC Director