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CS Staff Honored with Director's Awards for Service and Outreach

December 1, 2017

By Linda Vu
Contact: cscomms@lbl.gov

Group photo of CS staff honored with awards

Berkeley Lab Director Michael Witherell (left) with honorees Daniela Ushizima (center left), Jon Bashor (center right) and Mariam Kiran (right). (Photo by Marilyn Chung, Berkeley Lab)

Two Computing Sciences Area staffers—Jon Bashor and Daniela Ushizima—were honored with Berkeley Lab Director’s Awards for Exceptional Achievement at a ceremony on November 30. Mariam Kiran, a research scientist who holds a joint appointment at Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) and the Computational Research Division’s (CRD’s) Scientific Data Management Group also accepted her Department of Energy (DOE) Early Career Award at the event. 

Jon Bashor, Communications Manager for Berkeley Lab’s Computing Sciences Area, was honored for his service to the Lab over the last 20 years. Throughout his Berkeley Lab career, Bashor has taken the initiative to foster relationships with key stakeholders in high performance computing (HPC) and networking around the globe, including policymakers and DOE program managers; journalists and community influencers; and researchers at both Berkeley Lab and across the DOE Lab Complex.

In 2013, when DOE decided that all 17 of its national labs would be represented in a single SC Conference booth, Bashor volunteered to take the lead in procuring and planning the booth project. He also coordinated the Science and Computation display at National Lab day in April 2016 and serves a prominent role on DOE’s Exascale Computing Project communications committee. Bashor has also participated in the Supercomputing (SC) conference on a volunteer basis every year since joining the Lab in 1997. This includes being a member of the SC Communications Committee, working with HPC communicators and influencers from across the country—in academia, industry and research institutions—to promote the importance of HPC and the SC Conference. In 2008, he served as the communications chair as part of the committee’s executive team and, as such, was a close advisor to the committee’s general chair. 

In addition to raising Berkeley Lab’s profile in the HPC community, Bashor has also dedicated a lot of time engaging the local community – particularly high school aged students – to help inspire them to consider STEM-related career paths. Earlier this year, he helped organize a weeklong workshop that brought 10 students from the IT Academy at Kennedy High in nearby Richmond, Calif. to Berkeley Lab to get hands-on experience in high-speed networking and expert advice on career pathyways. The workshop was considered a huge success, and even caught the attention of U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who tweeted about it.

Over the years, Bashor has voluntarily worked with Albany High School staff to pair students interested in science and engineering careers with Berkeley Lab researchers as part of the school’s annual Job Shadow Day. Since 2010, he has also reached out to the IT Academy at Kennedy High to offer support and education for their computing sciences classes.

Daniela Ushizima, staff scientist and deputy lead for the Data Analytics and Visualization Group in CRD, was recognized for her outreach efforts. Ushizima has been an active participant and contributor to the U.S. State Department’s TechWomen program since 2013, hosting emerging women scientists and researchers from Tunisia, Kenya and South Africa for extended visits here at Berkeley Lab so they can gain exposure to our world-class science programs.

Through her efforts with the Oakland-based Black Girls Code project, Ushizima also spent many weekends during 2014–2016 engaged in daylong events mentoring young women by teaching them about computers, coding, robotics and careers in STEM.  She also organized and ran several multi-day “hack-a-thons,” which provide a hands-on experience in developing software as a group and empowering young women with new skills as well as the knowledge that they are very much welcomed and wanted in STEM. 

In addition to STEM outreach, Ushizima has also been actively engaged in organizing and leading many workshops aimed at multidisciplinary outreach. The common theme in all of these cases is to bring together researchers from diverse scientific backgrounds and help them understand each other’s science challenges and the capabilities and limits of technologies. Ushizima’s efforts have established close ties with UC San Francisco both in terms of technology—where her image analysis methods offer new hope in rapid diagnosis of neurological disease, particularly early onset of Alzheimer’s—as well as in mentoring and broader community building. She received a DOE Early Career Award in 2015 to develop new methods to help scientists extract more information from digital images produced by experiments studying materials such as ceramics and geological samples at DOE facilities.

At Berkeley Lab, Ushizima is an ongoing member of the Women Scientists and Engineers Council, particularly the Empowerment group, and has volunteered to help with activities led by the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program and the CRD Summer programs. She has taught numerous courses on Software Carpentry—digital literacy on fundamentals of data science, including common software tools like git, Python and R. In collaboration with UC Berkeley, she helped organize a “teach the instructors” session in 2017, in which 15 spots are reserved for Berkeley Lab staff. 

The Director’s Awards program recognizes significant achievements of Lab employees. Each year, these awards are given for accomplishments, leadership, collaboration, multi-disciplinary science, cross-divisional projects and commitment to excellence in support of the Lab’s mission and strategic goals.

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.