A-Z Index | Phone Book | Careers

CRD’s Julian Borrill Receives NASA's Exceptional Public Achievement Medal

October 14, 2016

Contact: Jon Bashor, jbashor@lbl.gov, 510-486-5849

nasa medal1cropped

Julian Borril (center) receives NASA Exception Achievement Medal from JPL President Michael Watkins (left) and Geoffrey Yoder, Acting Associate Administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate.

Julian Borrill, leader of the Computational Cosmology Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been awarded the NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal for "conceiving and implementing the mission-critical high performance computing system for Planck data analysis." The medal was presented to Borrill in an Oct. 13 ceremony at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. 

For the past 15 years, Borrill has worked on using computing resources at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center to support the Planck satellite mission, a joint project between the European Space Agency and NASA. He has served as the US team’s computational systems architect for more than 10 years.

“This award is fitting recognition of Julian’s leadership role in supporting the data requirements of the Planck mission and establishing NERSC and Berkeley Lab as the computational hub of the U.S. Planck community,” said David Brown, director of the lab’s Computational Research Division (CRD), home to the Computational Cosmology Center (C3).

Launched in 2009, the Planck satellite was a space telescope that mapped the anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) at microwave frequencies, with high sensitivity and angular resolution. The satellite was deactivated after gathering about a trillion samples, or about 10 terabytes of data. The data was transmitted to Earth, where it was archived at NERSC and made available to the Planck research community for analysis. However, the analysis of the data required the generation and reduction of 10,000 simulated realizations of the entire mission, equivalent to 100 petabytes of data.

In 2013, the Planck team released preliminary results based on the Planck observatory’s first 15 months of data. Using supercomputers at NERSC, Planck scientists created the most detailed and accurate maps yet of the relic radiation from the big bang. The maps revealed that the universe is about 100 million years older than we thought with more matter and less dark energy and a slower expansion rate.

Borrill’s efforts in support of Planck have included everything from directing the development and deployment of the massively parallel software needed for Planck’s most computationally challenging data simulation and analysis tasks, to drafting the memorandum of understanding between NASA and DOE that ensured that Planck would have access to NERSC throughout the mission.

“Although this is an individual award, it ultimately reflects the outstanding contributions of many people in CRD and NERSC over many years, as well as the long-standing support for Planck at NERSC from HEP and Berkeley Lab management,” Borrill said.

The award is not the first time NASA has recognized Berkeley Lab’s support of the Planck mission. Along with Borrill, current C3 members Reijo Keskitalo and Theodore Kisner and former members Christopher Cantalupo, Sara Ricciardi, Federico Stivoli and Radek Stompor, have also received a number of NASA Public Service and Group Achievement Awards for their work on the supercomputing infrastructure for Planck at NERSC.

In addition to leading the Computational Cosmology Center in CRD, Borrill is a Senior Research Physicist at the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley.


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.