Leadership

H. Birali Runesha

Associate Vice President for Research Computing 
Director of the Research Computing Center
Phone: 773.702.5977 | Fax: 773.834.9199 | runesha@uchicago.edu

As associate vice president for research computing and director of the Research Computing Center, Dr. Hakizumwami Birali Runesha provides leadership and vision for advancing all aspects of research computing strategies at the University. He is responsible for the design, configuration, and administration of the centrally managed high-performance computing (HPC) systems and related services across the University of Chicago. In addition, he provides access to advanced technical expertise, user support, advice, and training to the research community.

Dr. Runesha is a seasoned professional who brings to the University of Chicago HPC management leadership and more than 20 years of experience in high-performance computing and scientific software development. He earned his MS and Ph.D. in civil engineering at Old Dominion University. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, he served as director of scientific computing and applications at the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI), managing the scientific computing, biological computing, visualization, and application development groups. In addition to overseeing the strategic planning of HPC resources and leading the annual procurement of supercomputing resources at MSI, Dr. Runesha created the MSI Application software development group and the MSI Scientific Data Management Laboratory to meet the evolving data management and database development needs of university researchers.

Dr. Runesha has developed open-source software programs and fast parallel solvers for large-scale finite element applications. He served as principal investigator on a number of research grants and is the author of a many journal articles, proceedings, and conference papers. He has given many invited talks, seminars, courses, and workshops on various HPC topics.

Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, Dr. Runesha was a research scholar at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology developing parallel computing algorithms for engineering applications, a research associate for the Multidisciplinary Parallel-Vector Computer Center at Old Dominion University, and an assistant professor at the University of Kinshasa.

Kathy Bauman

Assistant Director for Project Management
kbauman@uchicago.edu

Kathy is the Assistant Director for Project Management for the Research Computing Center (RCC). Her responsibilities include managing RCC projects, programs, and new initiatives as well as partnering with stakeholders, faculty, and partners to cooperatively meet quality and timeline goals. She also works with RCC leadership to strategize, develop, and implement policy, process, and project quality improvements. 

Kathy has extensive experience in data and software quality management; having successfully led comprehensive operational processes, and data and product quality management initiatives. Prior to joining the RCC, Kathy held several leadership roles, including as Director of Quality Assurance and Manager of Data Quality Control for marketing organizations focused on high-volume digital content management for a wide range of retail clients. Kathy earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Northern Illinois University and is a Certified Scrum Master through the Scrum Alliance.  

Kimberly Grasch

Assistant Director, Finance, Human Resources, and Faculty Programs
Phone: 773.702.0159 | kgrasch@uchicago.edu

Kim is the assistant director of finance, human resources, and faculty programs for the Research Computing Center (RCC). She is responsible for allocating and authorizing expenses, processing payments, procurement, and budget reconciliations. Kim also serves as a human resource generalist for the department, including recruiting staff and student employees.

Kim has more than eight years of experience in non-profit management in the areas of finance, human resources, and event planning. Prior to joining the RCC in 2015, Kim worked for Alumni Relations and Human Resource Services at the University. She has a master’s degree in Human Resource Development from Indiana State University.

Administration

Ross Hyman

Grant Solutions Architect
rhyman@uchicago.edu

Ross is a grant solutions architect for the Research Computing Center. He works closely with faculty to identify, develop, and implement computational, data science, and machine learning methods that advance their research. He assists faculty with grant preparation and editing, focusing on technical solutions.

Ross earned a Ph.D. in physics from Indiana University under Steve Girvin and did a postdoc in physics at Georgia Tech under Andy Zangwill. He has published in journals as varied as Physical Review Letters, American Journal of Physics, American Mathematical Monthly, and Tikkun on topics ranging from quantum phase transitions, magnetic thin films, density functional theory, the finite difference time domain method, bias in congressional apportionment, and social justice. He spent many years as a corporate researcher and writer for the AFL-CIO and has been a community organizer, science teacher, patent analyst, and data scientist.

Ashlyn Seehafer

Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of Research
aseehafer@uchicago.edu

Ashlyn is the executive administrative assistant to the Vice President of Research for the Research Computing Center (RCC). She is primarily responsible for the management of the VP’s schedule, meeting arrangements, travel, appointments, and other special projects within the RCC. She also provides internal assistance to the RCC team.

Before joining the RCC, Ashlyn was the executive assistant to the Director of Marketing & Operations at Talman Consultants, LLC., and is also a professional actor/singer in Chicago. She earned her bachelor's degree in theatre performance from North Central College.

Holly Smith

Communications and Outreach Specialist
hsmith4@uchicago.edu

Holly is the communications and outreach specialist for the Research Computing Center (RCC). She is responsible for planning, coordinating, scheduling, advertising, and logistics for all programs, events, and outreach activities hosted by the RCC.

Prior to joining the RCC, Holly worked at the University of Chicago Press in both editorial and marketing. She has a bachelor's degree in history from Swarthmore College and a master's degree in writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Application Development

Lakshman Pavan Kumar Boddoju

Software Developer
lakshmanboddoju@uchicago.edu

As an Application Software Developer, Lakshman works closely with the computational scientists and the professors who indulge in the Consultant Partnership Program with the RCC to deliver their software application development goals. These requests range across all phases of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).

He is a highly skilled software development professional with years of experience in the industry performing software design, development, automation, and integration tasks. Prior to joining the RCC, he developed software/networking/hardware-based solutions for numerous organizations such as Motorola Solutions, Tata Consultancy Services, and Gigamon. He is also a Scrum.org certified Professional Scrum Master, and a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). During his free time, he pursues activities across a wide variety of interests including but not limited to volunteering, entrepreneurship, trying to predict stock movements, and building prototype cars/robots.

He received his Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Northwestern University, and his Bachelor of Technology degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from VIT University.

Muhammad Aji Muharrom

Software Developer
ajimuharrom@uchicago.edu

Aji joined the Research Computing Center as a Research Computing Intern before embarking full-time as a Research Software Developer in the Application Development Team. With years of experience in software development, particularly in building web applications, he is keen to work with the computational scientists and faculty members to provide software solutions for research problems, ranging from streamlining research workflows to helping researchers showcasing their work. Among other things, he is passionate about robotic process automation and data standards for interoperability and reproducibility. He is also fond of exploring and continuously learning bleeding-edge technologies and state-of-the-art tools to deliver higher-quality applications that provide a better experience for both users and developers.

He was trained as an MD at Universitas Indonesia and holds an MS in Biomedical Informatics from the University of Chicago.

Computational Scientists

Debasmita Samaddar

Computational Scientist Team Lead
dsamaddar@uchicago.edu

Debasmita is the Computational Scientist Team Lead at the Research Computing Center (RCC) and has more than a decade of experience in high-performance computing. She has a broad interest in algorithms with a particular focus on parallel in time algorithms. She has given many invited talks and authored numerous publications that cover topics in parallel in time applications and AI.

Debasmita obtained her BSc in physics from the University of Calcutta, India, an MS from the University of Delaware, Newark, and a Ph.D. from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She has worked and collaborated extensively across Europe, the UK, and the US. She won the prestigious ITER Monaco Fellowship, only five of which are awarded every two years. The fellowship took her to work at the world’s biggest nuclear fusion experimental facility in Cadarache, France. She has worked as an Exascale Algorithm Specialist alongside mentoring Ph.D. candidates from various universities at the Culham Centre of Fusion Energy, the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fusion.

Debasmita brings to the RCC her exposure to various scientific methods in computational science, as well as her management and interpersonal skills acquired through working with many scientific groups across the globe.

Peter Carbonetto

Senior Computational Scientist, Statistics and Genetics
pcarbo@uchicago.edu

Peter is a Senior Computational Scientist at the Research Computing Center, with expertise in quantitative and data-intensive aspects of genetics and statistics. He conducts research at the interface of statistics, large-scale computation, and genomics, with additional background in computer science, machine learning, numerical optimization, and computational statistics. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of British Columbia.

J.D. Laurence-Chasen

Computational Scientist – Scientific Visualization and Machine Learning
jdlaurence@uchicago.edu

J.D. is a computational scientist with expertise in machine learning, computer vision, 3D modeling and simulation, and motor neuroscience. He leverages his skills and the RCC’s state-of-the-art technology to deliver data analysis and visualization solutions that drive research insights across a range of disciplines.

Prior to joining the RCC, J.D. received his doctorate in Integrative Biology from the University of Chicago. His graduate studies involved multimodal experiments that integrated techniques from biomechanics, neuroscience, and machine learning to deepen our understanding of how the brain controls muscles.

Aleksandr Lykhin

Computational Scientist – Data Security Engineer
lykhin@uchicago.edu

Aleksandr is a computational scientist with expertise in molecular modeling, electronic structure theory, and chemical kinetics/dynamics simulation. He supports computational research that requires high-security standards and delivers software solutions designed to comply with secure computing environments available at the Secure Data Enclave.

Before joining the RCC, Aleksandr received his Ph.D. in Computational Chemistry from the University of Nevada, Reno. He then conducted his postdoctoral studies at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and later at the University of Chicago, focusing on developing quantum chemistry tools for predicting molecular properties using classical and hybrid quantum-classical computing algorithms.

Trung Nguyen

Senior Computational Scientist, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering
ndtrung@uchicago.edu

Trung is a computational scientist with expertise in molecular modeling, soft mater physics and high-performance computing. He supports computational research at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, developing and optimizing open-source software packages on current and new hardware architectures at the university. 

Trung obtained his PhD in Chemical Engineering and Scientific Computing at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2011. Prior to joining the RCC, he was a research assistant professor at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern University. His studies focused on self- and directed-assembly of soft matter building blocks, nanoscale interactions across solid and liquid interfaces, and GPU-accelerated models for molecular dynamics simulations. He has been an active contributor to the LAMMPS software package, a classical molecular dynamics code with a focus on materials modeling.

Parmanand Sinha

Computational Scientist, GIS
pnsinha@uchicago.edu

Parmanand is a computational scientist at the RCC, with expertise in geospatial information sciences, remote sensing, and spatial statistics. Previously, he has worked on population modeling and developing methods for dealing with spatial autocorrelation in a spatial data-mining context.

Parmanand holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. He completed his Ph.D. in Geospatial Information Sciences in January 2015, at the University of Texas, Dallas, under the supervision of Dr. Daniel A. Griffith. His first postdoctoral appointment was with the Spatial Sciences Census Research group, under Dr. Nicholas Nagle, at the University of Tennessee. He investigated the spatial structure of the American population and how to design optimal sampling and reporting units for census surveys. In his second postdoctoral appointment, he worked on the WorldPop project at the University of Louisville focusing on developing approaches for dealing with computational issues in high-resolution population mapping.

Teodora Szasz

Computational Scientist - Image Analysis, Visualization, and Machine Learning
tszasz@uchicago.edu

Teodora engages the community of researchers involved in computational image analysis at the University of Chicago across multi-disciplinary areas including: biology, physics, chemistry, economics, public policy, and cancer research.

She serves as a catalyst for solving challenging questions in the research teams that she is supporting, such as: predicting oxygen support for COVID-19 patients, detecting prostate cancer, and analysis of messages related to identity in an official educational setting. Teodora brings to the field practical expertise in state-of-the-art advanced technology: Supercomputers, Cloud Computing, Machine Learning, Image Analysis Techniques, and Big Data.

Prior to joining the Research Computing Center, Teodora earned her doctorate degree in Computer Science at Toulouse University in France. She won international challenges (IUS PICMUS 2016) in beamforming for ultrasound medical imaging.

Himanshi Yadav

Research Data Scientist - Natural Language Processing
hyadav@uchicago.edu

Himanshi is a research data scientist at the Research Computing Center (RCC) with expertise in human-centered multimodal machine learning and robotics. She holds a master’s degree in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to joining the RCC, she worked on affective computing specializing in speech and text, speaker diarization, deep brain stimulation for OCD and depression, and unsupervised clustering techniques for hyperspectral images. Her responsibilities at the RCC include providing computational solutions to faculty, post-docs, and doctoral candidates. She aspires to aid and conduct state-of-the-art research in machine learning and its applications and be a part of the AI revolution.

HPC Systems and Operations

Virender Kumar

HPC System Engineer 
virenderk@uchicago.edu

Virender is a high-performance computing (HPC) system administrator. He has over eight years of experience leading the deployment and management of large HPC clusters and providing advanced user support. His primary role at the RCC is to administrate and develop the center's HPC infrastructure hardware and middleware.

Prior to joining the RCC team, he was an HPC/MCS Manager with Cray Supercomputer as a Hewlett Packard Enterprise. He has worked with leading MNC companies like HPE, CRAY, and IBM to contribute to managing the largest HPC system.

He holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from the Maharishi Markandeshwar University, India. Additionally, he holds various system-related certifications.   

Varun Sharma

HPC Systems Engineer
varuns@uchicago.edu

Varun serves as an HPC System Administrator at the Research Computing Center (RCC) with expertise in various hardware and software components of HPC clusters. He provides support in operations, integration, configuration, and management of compute, storage, and backup systems. He loves to explore and dig deeply into new technologies. Before joining the RCC, he acquired over 9 years of professional experience in IT & System Administration. He supported leading multinational customers like McKinsey & Company, IBM, HPE, CRAY, Ministry of Earth Sciences in India, Ministry of External Affairs in India, and Bharti Airtel Limited. He obtained his bachelor's degree in Technology from Rajasthan Technical University, India in 2011.