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In this issue:
XLDB Workshop Goes International
Leslie Jimison to Receive Klein Award

SLAC Today

Wednesday - September 16, 2009

XLDB Workshop Goes International

(Photo)
The SciDB team. From left, back row: Roman Simakov, Hideaki Kimura, Kian-Tat Lim, Emad Soroush, Daniel Wang; front row: Pavel Velikhov, Jennie Rogers. (Photo courtesy of Oleg Bartunov.)

The third annual Extremely Large Databases Workshop took place in Lyon, France, in late August, 2009—the first year that the workshop has taken place away from its roots at SLAC. SLAC database engineer Jacek Becla and his team members Kian-Tat Lim and Daniel Wang organized the event, co-locating it with the 35th Very Large Database research conference. This year's XLDB Workshop focused on reaching out to non-U.S. communities and scientific communities, such as geoscience, radio astronomy and biology, that have been underrepresented at the past workshops.

Two years ago, Becla established the invitation-only Extremely Large Databases Workshop series to bring together scientific and commercial users of extremely large databases, two groups that Becla said previously had very little contact on this issue. He also invited members of academia and database manufacturers to discuss advances in database technology and, most importantly, let them hear about problems that users are having or features they'd like to see in future database engines.

Previous XLDB workshops led to the creation of a project to build a new open-source database engine, called SciDB, geared specifically toward complex scientific analytics at extremely large scales. When SciDB is released, Becla said, it will revolutionize the way scientific analyses are done. The SciDB project has already attracted more than 20 database professors and engineers world-wide who are collaboratively designing and building the software. These include database giants Michael Stonebraker and David DeWitt, who pioneered database research and helped create technologies such as those used in today's automatic teller machines. The group demonstrated an early prototype of SciDB to several hundred people at the Very Large Database conference and again at the XLDB workshop.

"The system we are building is very different [than commercially manufactured databases]," Becla said. "We finally understand well what science's needs are, and we are building an engine that will fully address these needs, taking advantage of numerous commonalities between how different science domains want to ultimately analyze their data sets."  Read more...

Leslie Jimison to Receive Klein Award

(Photo - Leslie Jimison)
Leslie Jimison. (Photo by Nicholas Bock.)

Stanford materials science graduate student Leslie Jimison has been chosen as the recipient of the 2009 Melvin P. Klein Scientific Development Award for her work at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Jimison will accept the award October 19 at the joint SSRL-Linac Coherent Lightsource Users' Meeting.

The recognition, which has been awarded annually since 2006, is given to undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs for outstanding research conducted at SSRL. The award comes with a $1,000 prize to help recipients disseminate their scientific results.

"The award is a kind recognition for my work at SSRL," Jimison said, adding that she will use the award funds to offset travel expenses. "It will allow me to attend a conference not otherwise possible, where I will share my ideas, learn new ideas from others and meet other people in my field."

Using the SSRL beamline, Jimison studied the conductive properties of semiconducting polymers—organic materials that could see use in technologies ranging from solar cells to flexible displays. The materials are characterized by amorphous regions punctuated by crystallites—tiny structures made of ordered patterns of atoms. Previous studies have shown that the arrangement of the crystallites within the non-crystalline regions has a large effect on the materials' electrical properties. Jimison's goal was to improve the overall understanding of the relationship.

"Because these organic films are relatively new materials, we don't know how the microstructure details affect charge transport," Jimison said. "We're trying to fill in the story."  Read more...

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