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NSF’s MSGI Program Opens Doors for Math Sciences Grad Students

Applications Are Being Accepted for the 2019 MSG Internship Program through January 15

November 27, 2018

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MSGI intern Sara Nasab (center) discusses her work developing a computational tool to study warm rain formation during a poster session showcasing the 2018 Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences summer interns.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2019 National Science Foundation’s Mathematical Sciences Graduate Internship (MSGI) program. Introduced in 2017, the MSGI program gives graduate students the opportunity to intern at government or private laboratories across the U.S., with a focus on areas of the mathematical sciences supported by the NSF Division of Mathematical Sciences, including:

  • Algebra and Number Theory
  • Analysis
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Combinatorics
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Foundations
  • Geometric Analysis
  • Mathematical Biology
  • Probability
  • Statistics
  • Topology

Graduates all across the country are currently working on applications for internships next year; the deadline to apply is January 15, 2019.

Berkeley Lab is excited by the opportunities the MSGI program provides, according to Esmond Ng, head of the Applied Mathematics Department in the Computational Research Division at Berkeley Lab; in the first two years of the program, the Center for Computational Sciences and Engineering (CCSE) at Berkeley Lab has hosted three MSGI interns.

“This is an excellent way of training and developing mathematicians and statisticians for the workforce at DOE labs,” Ng said. “We meet many graduate students when we attend conferences on mathematical sciences. It is not uncommon to find students who are unaware of the the type of mathematical sciences research and job opportunities at non-academic institutions. The MSGI program promises to change all that.”

In the program’s first year, for example, Steven Reeves, then a graduate student in applied mathematics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, became one of first MSGI interns at Berkeley Lab. During his internship he worked in CCSE adding magnetic fields to a simulation code that models the evolution of the universe. This past summer he returned as an employee in CCSE, picking up where he left off and taking on other CCSE projects, including working on the AMReX software suite, a framework for massively parallel block-structured adaptive mesh refinement codes that helps researchers focus on specific regions of a calculation, allowing simulations to run faster.

“During the internship I was able to develop a strong working relationship with the group I am now working with,” Reeves said. “When you find a job working with people who you like and who have a great interest in what you’re interested in, it’s hard to pass up.”

Three other students participated in CCSE internships through the MSGI program in 2018:

  • Sara Nasab from the University of California, Santa Cruz, who worked with Andrew Myers to build a computational tool to study warm rain formation
  • Matea Alvarado from the University of California Merced, who worked with Johannes Blaschke on modeling active colloids in a fluid flow
  • John Wakefield from the University of Michigan, who worked with Emmanuel Motheau to develop tools to analyze turbulent flows and improve simulations involving them.

Through the MSGI program, graduate students in the field of mathematics can experience what work at a national lab is really like and help them determine if the work is something they are interested in. The experience the interns gain opens up new opportunities for subsequent internships and employment at these facilities.

“My experience at Berkeley Lab has been very informative, educational and enjoyable, in terms of both my research and my collaborations with other scientists,” Nasab said. “I had the opportunity to work one-on-one with experts in my field of study. I worked in the same office as the other interns, and was in close proximity with the rest of the group. We had multiple social outings a week, so the group itself became very close. After my time in CCSE I can say without a doubt that I would enjoy working at Berkeley Lab.”

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Computing Sciences Area at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory(Berkeley Lab) provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) 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. NERSC and ESnet are both Department of Energy Office of Science National User Facilities. The Computational Research Division (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.

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