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2019 Research Computing Days

Research Computing Days Transform Your Data, Your Research, Your Career

February 11 & 12, 2019  — Student Union Building


With two days of presentations and workshops, Research Computing Days features:

  • Software Carpentry Workshops in Unix Shell, Git, and a variety of programming languages (e.g. Python, MATLAB, and R). Space is limited. Use our online registration form to get registered.
  • Special guests  Jonathan Cohen, Senior Director of AI Software at NVIDIA, will talk about how artificial intelligence (AI) and scientific computing converge, and Dr. Rory Barnes, Professor of Astronomy from the University of Washington, will tell us how scientists are using data science to answer, “Are we alone?”
  • HPC Labs – learn how to access to and run jobs on Boise State’s R2 Cluster.
  • Poster Session to share and explore computational and data-intensive research being done by student researchers at Boise State (Extended Deadline – Please submit abstract by January 31 using our online submission form.) PRIZES!! Amazon gift cards will be awarded for first ($200), second ($125), and third ($75) place posters.
  • Computing in the Cloud Amazon Web Services will be on site presenting intro and advanced cloud computing workshops. They will also be available for one-on-on consultations. More info to come.
  • FREE lunch sponsored by the Office of Information Technology and the Research Development Office.

Take a look at the 2019 RC Days Agenda for more information.

When & Where

February 11 & 12, 2019
8:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M. (Monday, February 11)*
8:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M. (Tuesday, February 12)*

*Please attend all of the Software Carpentry courses you’ve committed to via registration. Otherwise, feel free to come to as much of the program as your schedule allows. Research Computing Days activities will be held in various rooms in the Student Union Building (SUB).

Software Carpentry Workshops

Software CarpentryBoise State University is hosting a Software Carpentry workshop for graduate students, faculty, and other community researchers. Software Carpentry teaches basic lab skills for research computing. They provide researchers high-quality, friendly training that teaches researchers how to build, use, validate, and share software well. Lessons at Research Computing Days will include the following. Use the links to learn what will be covered in each of the courses.

The target audience is learners who have little to no prior computational experience, and the instructors put a priority on creating a friendly environment to empower researchers to spend less time wrestling with software and more time doing useful research. Even those with some experience will benefit, as each workshop is unique, and people with different skill levels will bring home different lessons, but everyone will learn something useful.

Space is limited and it will likely fill quickly. The courses are being offered free of charge. Here is a registration link and the workshop webpage for more information.

Questions? Send email to  We hope to see you at the workshop!

Guest Speaker: Jonathan Cohen

Jonathan Cohen is Senior Director of AI software at NVIDIA, where he leads an engineering team building tools to support use of modern AI techniques in areas of speech recognition and language technologies. Jonathan recently returned to NVDIA after spending three years at Apple as Director of Software Engineering, where he led algorithm simulation and verification as part of Apple’s Autonomous Systems project. Prior to his stint at Apple, Jonathan held many positions at NVIDIA over the previous eight years, first as a member of NVIDIA Research developing parallel numerical algorithms, then in technical leadership roles within the CUDA organization. In 2013, Jonathan founded and then led NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Software organization. In this role, he led the initial development and release of the popular cuDNN package.

Earlier in his career, Jonathan developed technology for the feature film visual effects industry, earning film credits on movies including Spider-Man 3 and The Cat in the Hat. His pioneering work in the use of levelset methods and computational fluid dynamics for the visual simulation of smoke, fire, and water were recognized with an Academy Award for Technical Achievement in 2008. He received his undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Brown University.

Talk Title: The Convergence of AI and Scientific Computing

Abstract: The Scientific Computing field has always benefited from synergistic and opportunistic development in other computational disciplines. A decade ago, computer gaming drove the development of ever more powerful consumer-grade parallel processors, and the scientific computing community eagerly adopted these GPU computing devices for their own research. The massive rise in popularity of deep learning since 2012 has similarly powered a tremendous increase in affordable computational power. Today, there is a natural overlap between the needs of the AI community and the ever-increasing demand for compute by the development of new models for material science, climate, and other scientific disciplines. All of this comes at a time when Moore’s Law, which has powered exponential growth in computing power for four decades, is ending. This has profound and interesting implications for all of these fields – AI, Graphics, and HPC.

This talk will be illustrated with examples from Jonathan’s career, stretching from visual effects production in the early 2000s, to development of parallel algorithms in bioinformatics, to modern approaches to building speech recognition systems using deep neural networks.

Guest Speaker: Dr. Rory Barnes

Dr. Rory Barnes is a professor of astronomy, astrobiology, and data science at the University of Washington in Seattle. He develops computer models that simulate planetary system evolution from a multi-disciplinary perspective, including geophysics, atmospheric science, orbital dynamics, stellar astrophysics and galactic astronomy. This research relies heavily on advances developed in his research group, including software engineering, machine learning, and data visualization.

Talk Title: The Search for Life Beyond the Solar System

Abstract: The discovery of planets beyond the Solar System, “exoplanets,” and the advent of powerful space telescopes provide an unprecedented opportunity to answer the eternal question “Are we alone?” But to find the answer, we must devise modeling and computational techniques that can efficiently explore high-dimensional problems and produce predictions for comparison to observational data. Although most of us take Earth’s capacity to support life for granted, its habitability is predicated on a huge number of phenomena combining together in the correct sequence for billions of years. Earth’s interior provides the energy for geochemical cycles that stabilize our atmosphere’s pressure and composition; the orbits of other planets preclude wild swings in Earth’s orbit; the Sun’s relatively calm surface spares our atmosphere from harmful blasts of high energy radiation and particles; the Sun’s orbit in the galaxy does not send it near the galactic center where passing stars can send killer comets hurtling toward Earth, etc. In order to make sense of future observations of potentially inhabited worlds, scientists across numerous disciplines must converge on realistic models of planetary system evolution that can discriminate between biologically active and dead planets. I will present the current state of humanity’s search for life amongst the stars, and how astrobiologists are leveraging the tools and insights from the burgeoning field of data science to identify a tractable path for the discovery of life beyond the Solar System.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Computing-in-the-Cloud Tutorials

Drop in on AWS for one-on-one help – An opportunity to talk with AWS Research Computing and HPC Specialists on how to burst research workloads into the cloud. Let us show you how you can get started, or optimize, running on AWS.

Introduction to Research Computing on AWS – Have you ever wondered what cloud computing is and how it could help you? Get to results faster by bursting research workloads onto AWS. This introductory presentation will teach you the basic of AWS, including essentials such as how to launch an EC2 instance, how to move data into and out of the cloud, and how to launch Amazon Sagemaker; AWS’ Jupyter notebook, and machine learning quick start capability.

Advanced Research Computing on AWS: Launch a High Performance Cluster on AWS – Would you like to burst your research workloads onto AWS? Come to a hands-on workshop doing research and high-performance computing (HPC) in the cloud. You’ll learn how to use AWS ParallelCluster to create a compute cluster, how to run simulations in the cloud, and how to automate HPC clusters. All on AWS!

Poster Session: Solving Problems & Winning Prizes!  – February 12, 12:15 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Any student who would like to present a poster to show how data science, programming, or computing approaches have helped solve a problem or make research or work more efficient is invited. Select submissions may be invited to present a 4-minute lightning talk; if you are interested to be considered for a talk, please indicate so when you submit your abstract.

Twenty abstracts will be accepted and must use the online submission form and include a title and short abstract.

PRIZES!! Amazon gift cards will be awarded for first ($200), second ($125) , and third ($75) place posters. Posters will be evaluated for overall visual, overall content, oral presentation, and overall impact.

Poster presenters are responsible for setting up their posters on the provided portable walls. Posters should not exceed 4 feet wide and 3 feet high.

You must set up your poster  on the day of the event between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Presenters are expected to stand by their posters for presentation between 12:15 p.m. and 1:15 p.m.

An award and dessert reception will be at 3:00 p.m., and posters should be removed by 4:00 p.m.