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New CIO to Lead SLAC Computing

(Photo - Don Lemma)
SLAC Director of Computing and CIO Don Lemma. (Photo courtesy of Don Lemma.)

This week SLAC welcomes Don Lemma as the lab's new director of computing and chief information officer, responsible for the new Computing Division and Office of the CIO—formerly Scientific Computing and Computing Services. Lemma joined the lab Tuesday, taking the reins from interim SCCS Director Steffen Luitz.

"Steffen Luitz deserves heartfelt thanks and professional gratitude for the role he has served as interim SCCS Director," said SLAC Chief Operations Officer Alexander Merola during an SCCS all-hands meeting to welcome Lemma, Tuesday in Panofsky Auditorium.

Lemma brings to SLAC more than two decades' experience in executive-level information management, including responsibility for large-scale computing systems at the genomics-focused Applied Biosystems Group, pharmaceutical company Schering-Plough, semiconductor manufacturer Applied Materials as well as the New Jersey Department of the Treasury. Lemma completed his Master of Public Administration at Rutgers University and doctorate in computer information systems from Nova Southeastern University, focusing his thesis work in public key encryption.

"I believe we have in Don one of the premier computing directors in the Department of Energy lab complex," Merola said. "Working with the existing professionals in the Computing Division, we will continue to move aggressively forward to provide SLAC with the right IT and computing infrastructures worthy of our scientific mission. Don Lemma with our professional staff will deliver."

An avid high-altitude hiker and expeditionist, Lemma joked during Tuesday's welcome session about management meetings convened at the top of Half Dome. Alongside a supporting photograph of colleagues in Yosemite, he shared a shot from his most recent trip to the North Pole. "The camera is looking south," he quipped.

Regarding his management style and plans for SLAC computing, Lemma said he likes to see active progress and came here looking to make SLAC computing top-tier among DOE organizations.

"I like to keep a rather fluid environment, and move as quickly as the organization can support," he said. Among his aims for SLAC computing are empowering staff to make decisions with minimal red tape, embracing a customer-oriented philosophy and developing agility to support business change. A key goal, he said, is "to build the systems and infrastructure for the lab that we want to become, not the lab that we are."

—Shawne Workman
SLAC Today, July 30, 2009