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In this issue:
Amber Boehnlein to Lead SLAC Scientific Computing
A Renaissance for Scientific Computing at SLAC
May Public Lecture Asks the Question: Is a Nano-SLAC Possible?

SLAC Today

Thursday - May 5, 2011

Amber Boehnlein to Lead
SLAC Scientific Computing

Amber Boehnlein.
(Photo by Brad Plummer.)

Last week, physicist and computing expert Amber Boehnlein joined SLAC as the Computing Division's new head of scientific computing, reporting to Randy Melen, SLAC's Deputy Chief Information Officer. Boehnlein's responsibilities are twofold—managing the groups that run the scientific computing systems, and working with the Scientific Computing Steering Committee headed by Richard Dubois to coordinate use of those systems. She will also work with Dubois and other stakeholders to develop a strategy to address the broader scientific computing issues at SLAC. 

Boehnlein arrived at SLAC armed with a wealth of experience in both scientific computing and high-energy physics. A long-time member of the DZero collaboration and staff scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, she paid her programming dues as a postdoc working on the high-level trigger for the DZero proton-antiproton colliding experiment at the Tevatron, Fermilab's giant collider. She found that she liked it.

"At a hadron collider, triggering is one of the most interesting things you can do," Boehnlein said. "You only get one chance to get the right data on tape. As a matter of fact I enjoyed it very, very much. It was extremely rewarding work." Then she heard the news that the Fermilab computing division was hiring a staff scientist.

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A Renaissance for Scientific Computing at SLAC

The last year has seen a sea of change in the perception of scientific computing at the Lab: the rapid success of the Linac Coherent Light Source and burgeoning growth in photon science have demonstrated the central role scientific computing plays in the science output of the laboratory. The associate laboratory directors have been united in their conviction that strong support is needed, and were willing to put people and money on the problem. 

A little over a year ago, Persis commissioned a task force, chaired by Randy Melen in the Computing Division, to advise her on how scientific computing should be organized at the lab, and, in this multi-program world we now live in, how it would be paid for. At the time, the Scientific Computing Department was set for full cost recovery and we needed to find a balance between recouping our actual costs and developing a model that would be fiscally attractive to grant recipients and other scientific computing users at SLAC. The ALDs decided to use indirect funds to keep the centralized service attractive.

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Poster by SLAC InfoMedia Solutions

May Public Lecture Asks the Question: Is a Nano-SLAC Possible?

On May 24 at 7:30 p.m., Christopher McGuinness of SLAC's Accelerator Research Division will present the public lecture Particle Accelerator on a Chip.

Accelerators are huge and expensive, miles-long tubes that produce high energy particles to smash protons and make intense X-ray beams. Twenty-first-century technology has taken us from the room sized ENIAC mainframe computer to microprocessors that fit in a pocket. Can it do the same for particle accelerators? One approach showing promise is to use fiber optics or silicon crystals to build the particle pathways, and high-power lasers as the driver. In this lecture, McGuinness will discuss how SLAC researchers are assembling such systems at SLAC to build the accelerator on a chip.

The lecture will take place in SLAC's Panofsky Auditorium with an encore presentation the next day, Wednesday, May 25, at 12:00 pm, in Kavli auditorium for SLAC employees. Both lectures are appropriate for a general audience.

For more information regarding the evening lecture, visit the SLAC Public Lecture Web site. More information regarding the lunch-time encore is also available.

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