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CS’ Newest Alvarez Fellows Gets Nice Reception from Her Peers

October 5, 2018

Jon Bashor, jbashor@lbl.gov

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2018 Alvarez Fellow Tess Smidt (center) talks about her work with NERSC Division Deputy Katie Antypas and Berkeley Lab Director Mike Witherell.


Tess Smidt, who joined Computing Sciences in July as the 2018 Luis W. Alvarez Fellow in Computing Sciences, was officially welcomed this week at a reception that included four past fellows and members of the selection committee. Also attending were Berkeley Lab Director Mike Witherell and Computational Research Division Director (and host) David Brown.

Previous Alvarez Fellows in attendance were Juli Mueller (2014), Anubhav Jain and Lin Lin (2011) and Aydin Buluç (2010).

As Smidt was weighing the lab’s offer, she was also being recruited heavily by Google, which she described at the reception. “I tried some of that tasty food at Google, but they couldn’t sway me.”

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Computing Sciences Associate Lab Director Kathy Yelick (left) visits with 2014 Alvarez Fellow Juli Mueller (center) and ESnet researcher Mariam Kiran, a member of the Alvarez Fellow selection committee.

She’s also no stranger to the lab, having worked with Jeff Neaton’s group at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry designing materials and calculating their quantum mechanical properties with supercomputers at NERSC as part of her graduate research. Her fellowship will be an extension of that work.

The fellowship is named for physicist Luis W. Alvarez, who in the 1950s opened a new era in high-energy physics research with his proposal to build a pressurized chamber filled with liquid hydrogen. Known as a “bubble chamber,” this device would allow scientists to discover new particles and analyze their behavior. In his 1955 prospectus for such an experimental facility, Alvarez became one of the first scientists to propose using computing devices for analyzing experimental data, even before such computers were actually available.

By the 1960s, Alvarez's vision was reality. His colleagues at Berkeley Lab used computers to track some 1.5 million particle physics events annually and developed scientific computing techniques which were adopted by researchers around the world. This effort led to Alvarez receiving the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1968.


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.