New Employee Profiles
May 1, 2014
Rachel Hollowgrass, CRD
As a computer systems engineer in the Advanced Computing for Sciences Department, Rachel Hollowgrass will be designing and developing software for research teams—essentially providing solutions that allow researchers to focus more on their research. Initially, she will be working with the AmeriFlux project as it gathers and shares long-term measurements of carbon, water and energy flux.
Hollowgrass comes to Berkeley Lab with decades of industry experience. She spent 13 years as a software engineer at Apple, where she contributed to many technical and consumer-facing projects—including the iPod, iTunes, Final Cut Pro and a simulation for Mac OS. For 11 years she focused user experience in online curricula and data aggregation projects. At Apple, Hollowgrass learned first hand how software and hardware design can enhance user success and that designing simple solution actually requires effort. In fact, she notes that some of the AmeriFlux field research needs remind her of early iPod challenges.
“I look forward to engaging with researchers to learn in detail about their technology challenges and successes,” says Hollowgrass. “I have employed user experience approaches rooted in ethnography and psychology to understand user needs and goals.My understanding of interaction and task design has direct application to research tools such as the AmeriFlux data functions.”
A native of Los Angeles, Hollowgrass studied computer science at the University of California, Irvine, before moving to the Bay Area for work. In her spare time, Hollowgrass often takes her 13-year-old-daugter and her daughter’s friends hiking and cycling. She also enjoys running, kayaking and active travel. When she’s not outside or at work, Hollowgrass serves on the board of her daughter’s school and participates in urban and transportation planning events in Rockridge and North Oakland.
Hamdy Elgammal, CRD
This month, Hamdy Elgammal joins the Advanced Computing for Sciences (ACS) department as a computer systems engineer. He will primarily be developing software for scientific applications. A native of Alexandria, Egypt, Elgammal moved to Berkeley for this new post. But, he is no stranger to Berkeley Lab.
As an undergraduate student, he spent two summers working long-distance with ACS Postdoctoral Researcher Taghrid Samak on a number of projects. In 2011, he helped build a prototype for the statistical dashboard for STAMPEDE, a project that aimed to provide a toolset for managing large scientific workflows. And in 2012, he was part of two-person team that analyzed Internet2 logs using Apache Pig.
“In my first intro to programming lab I started realizing how much potential there was in this profession and in building things that work to do a specific thing efficiently. There is a certain wonder to that,” says Elgamma. “A lot of the time it's like working on a new puzzle every time you see a problem. By the time I was done with my visit to SC12, I realized my long-term plan would be a career closely related to applied research. “
Elgammal completed his Bachelors of Science degree in Computer and Communication Engineering at Alexandria University in 2013. Before moving to Berkeley, he had only been the United States once before—to participated in the HPC for Undergrads program at SC12. “I love how low-key Berkeley is. I am used to seeing really overcrowded urban areas in Alexandria and so seeing a town composed almost entirely of relatively short buildings has been a welcome change,” he says.
In his spare time, Elgammal likes to read, write short stories, as well as explore and discuss philosophy of mind and psychology. He’s also developing an interest in developmental psychology and neurobiology.
Meiyue Shao, CRD
As a new postdoctoral fellow in the Scientific Computing Group, Meiyue Shao will work on high performance matrix algorithms arising from quantum physics and chemistry.
“I have always been interested in both mathematics and programming. When I took my first undergraduate course in numerical analysis, I felt that this discipline fit my interests perfectly and I chose this area for my long-term career,” says Shao.
Originally from Shanghai, China, Shao earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees in mathematics at Fudan University. In graduate school, Shao was actually a visiting scholar at Berkeley Lab for six months and worked on a project that required both matrix algorithms and programming. Today, he credits his career in research to this experience.
After earning his masters, Shao at Umea University (Umea, Sweden) and EPF Lausanne (Lausanne, Switzerland), while pursuing his PhD in computational mathematics. He spent the last several years working numerical linear algebra and high performance computing, which are closely related to his current work. In his leisure time, Shao enjoys listening to classical music, playing Chinese chess and computer games, as well as solving various kinds of puzzles.
Ray Spence, NERSC
This month, Raymond Spence started his “second NERSC tour of duty” as a computer systems engineer working in the Operations Technology Group (OTG). In this role, he will introduce new monitoring and alerting services within OTG and expand this area within NERSC. From 2006-2008, Ray worked in NERSC’s Networking Servers and Security group.
Throughout his career Ray has supported several different types of network services in various environments ranging from Fortune500 to dot-com companies, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and UC Berkeley. These experiences include constructing web sites, computational clusters, designing network-monitoring tools and standard install, upgrade, fix, and retire lifecycle for a number of applications.
“After several years of production support I have a great appreciation for and interest in thoughtful monitoring services,” says Ray, who was first exposed to computing when he went to work for a start-up biotech company in 1992. “That company used SGI systems to mimic experiments for candidate drug compounds as they would occur in a human lung. The system admin at the time showed me around the server room and the really cool workstations the scientists used. Soon enough he gave me an account and I started playing at the command line. A couple of UC Extension courses, several UNIX books and days of free time later I found myself in the IT industry.”
Born and raised in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, Ray moved to California as a teenager where he finished High School. He holds a Bachelors degree in history from UC Berkeley. His hobbies include learning to play the piano, re-learning to play the violin and landscaping his backyard.
About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab
High performance computing plays a critical role in scientific discovery. Researchers increasingly rely on advances in computer science, mathematics, computational science, data science, and large-scale computing and networking to increase our understanding of ourselves, our planet, and our universe. Berkeley Lab’s Computing Sciences Area researches, develops, and deploys new foundations, tools, and technologies to meet these needs and to advance research across a broad range of scientific disciplines.