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InTheLoop | 05.01.2006

The weekly electronic newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences employees

May 1, 2006

CRD's Biological Data Management Center Gaining International Visibility

Members of the Biological Data Management and Technology Center will have their work featured at two international meetings in Europe and one in Brazil this summer.

Victor Markowitz, head of the center, is one of two keynote speakers invited to address the 3rd International Workshop on Data Integration in the Life Sciences (DILS'06). The workshop will be held July 20-22 at the European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, U.K. More information about the workshop is at http://www2.informatik.hu-berlin.de/dils2006/.

At the 14th International Conference on Intelligent Systems for Computational Biology, to be held Aug. 6-10 in Brazil, the center will present a paper on "An Experimental Metagenome Data Management and Analysis System," which will also be published in the journal Bioinformatics. The conference is the annual meeting of the Society for Computational Biology. There will also be two one-hour demonstrations of two projects supported by the center and the Joint Genome Institute, the Integrated Microbial Genome (IMG) and the IMG/Metagenomics (IMG/M) databases.

Finally, at the 11th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology, to be held Aug. 20-25 in Vienna, Markowitz will chair a roundtable on metagenome data management. More information about the symposium is at http://www.kenes.com/isme/index.asp.

CRD's Juan Meza Appointed to SIAM Board of Trustees

Juan Meza, head of CRD's High Performance Computing Research Department, has been appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). SIAM, founded in 1951, currently has more than 10,000 members.

The goals of SIAM are to:

  • advance the application of mathematics and computational science to engineering, industry, science, and society;
  • promote research that will lead to effective new mathematical and computational methods and techniques for science, engineering, industry, and society;
  • provide media for the exchange of information and ideas among mathematicians, engineers, and scientists.

The organization publishes 11 peer-reviewed journals and about 25 books per year. SIAM also hosts an annual meeting and a number of specialized conferences and workshops.

Energy Secretary Bodman Emphasises Computing in AAAS Talk

Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman spoke at last month's AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy on issues of major importance to the physics community. In his remarks, Bodman noted that supercomputers are a key focus area for DOE. Here are some excerpts from his talk:

"The Department, through its Office of Science, already provides more than 40% of all federal support for research in the physical sciences. Next year, ACI [American Competitiveness Initiative] would boost the funding for the Office of Science by $505 million, a 14.1 percent increase that will bring its total budget to $4.1 billion.

"We have carefully weighed the choices on what areas to give priority and we have singled out those that hold the greatest potential for significant advances. When I joined the Department a little over a year ago, it appeared that many of our research projects had limitless timetables and lacked measurable results. I have reminded the leadership of our Office of Science that I am 67 years old. You can study the actuarial tables and agree that I might be around for another 20 years or so. I have advised my colleagues that I'd like to see tangible results from these projects in MY lifetime. So we are focusing on targeted sectors that we believe have the greatest potential. Those sectors include supercomputers, nanotechnology, high-intensity light sources, energy from biomass and nuclear fusion. We are also increasing our support for both high-energy and nuclear physics.

"I would add that a tremendous amount of thought has gone into the requested level of funding and what can be achieved with it, particularly given these tight budgetary times. Now, more than ever, this nation cannot afford to waste taxpayers' dollars on programs that are not well-conceived or are unlikely to be effective, nor can we afford to impose unnecessary restrictions or requirements on how and where these programs should be carried out. We have seen the unintended consequences of good intentions before when it has come to directing how and where dollars are spent. So I hope my friends on Capitol Hill will agree with me on this point, and I look forward to working with them to ensure that we devote the necessary resources to these critical projects."

The full speech may be read at http://www.doe.gov/print/3510.htm.

UCOP Responds to Concerns about Reinstating Retirement Plan Contributions

(Note: The following message is from Michael Waldman, Benefits Services manager in the UC Office of the President.)

Following the Regents' approval in March of an updated funding policy for the UC Retirement Plan (UCRP), there has been some misinterpretation of the Regents' action on the part of designated representatives of certain employee groups. In some cases, statements have been circulated that are not true. We would like to take this opportunity to clearly state what the Regents' action means to employees.

Active employees will not be asked to make 16 percent contributions to UCRP, nor is there any action under consideration to reduce employee pay by 8 percent in July 2007. The Regents adopted the concept of a multi-year contribution strategy under which contributions from employees and the university will be shared and will increase gradually over time. The intent of the Regents' action is to begin contributions at a low level to minimize the impact on employee take-home pay and on the university's operating budgets.

The specific levels of employee and university contributions have not yet been decided by the Regents. The reinstatement of contributions to the UCRP is subject to the budget process and the collective bargaining process for represented employees.

Employees are encouraged to refer to the Future of the UC Retirement Plan Website at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/ucrpfuture/welcome.html, which will be updated with additional Qs & As and announcements.

Cyber Security Reminder: Protect Your Computer and Your Identity

Fraudulent phishing emails from banks and credit card companies asking information are commonplace, but did you know the same techniques may be used against you as an employee of Berkeley Lab? Think twice if you receive a phone call, email, or see a suspicious website asking for your private LBNL information, such as your LDAP or system password. Attackers who target you based on your connection to the Lab may use convincing LBNL logos and terminology to give you a sense of security. Many DOE sites, including other labs, have been targeted by these techniques during the past year. If you're not sure it's real, send an email to cppm@lbl.gov. Most likely, you weren't the only person targeted, so report it — don't just delete it or ignore it. For more information, go to http://www.lbl.gov/cyber/guidelines/social-engineering.html.

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Computing Sciences organization provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing the Department of Energy's research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world and our universe.

ESnet, the Energy Sciences Network, provides the high-bandwidth, reliable connections that link scientists at 40 DOE research sites to each other and to experimental facilities and supercomputing centers around the country. The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) powers the discoveries of 7,000-plus scientists at national laboratories and universities, including those at Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division (CRD). CRD conducts research and development in mathematical modeling and simulation, algorithm design, data storage, management and analysis, computer system architecture and high-performance software implementation. NERSC and ESnet are Department of Energy Office of Science User Facilities.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the DOE’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.