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H. Birali Runesha

Associate Vice President for Research Computing 
Director of the Research Computing Center
Phone: 773.702.5977 | Fax: 773.834.9199 |

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

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

Associate Director - Administration & Faculty Programs
Phone: 773.702.0159 |

Kim is the associate director of administration 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.


Holly Smith

Communications and Outreach Specialist

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

Muhammad Aji Muharrom

Software Developer

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.

Eric "Ricky" Samore

Software Developer

Ricky is a software developer at the Research Computing Center (RCC). He builds and maintains a variety of software applications supporting RCC operations and research associated with the RCC.

Prior to joining the RCC, Ricky worked as a machine learning engineer and software engineer at the startups XaiPient and Zero Hash, respectively. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Tulane University and an M.S. in Statistics from the University of Chicago.

Computational Scientists

Debasmita Samaddar

Computational Scientist Team Lead

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.

Pedram Esfahani

Research Data Scientist and System Delivery Manager

Pedram Esfahani is a research data scientist and service delivery manager. He got his B.Sc. in Engineering Physics from the Science and Research University of Tehran, Iran, in 2012. In 2014, he moved to the U.S. to pursue his M.Sc. in physics from the University of Akron and completed a thesis on computational modeling of negative refractive-index materials. Then, in 2016, he moved to Oregon to pursue his Ph.D. in physics and learn more advanced experimental and computational skills at Oregon State University. Pedram did rotations in experimental materials and optics labs working on projects about piezoelectric filters (EE dept.) and NSOM-AFM, and he briefly worked on DNA bioinformatics and computational biology using AI. Pedram eventually joined Dr. Bo Sun’s collective cell biophysics research group. Pedram's Ph.D. thesis focused on the chemotaxis of breast cancer cells, specifically the connection between cell migration direction and extracellular matrix gaps (mechano-sensing). In his work, he developed a pipeline consisting of machine learning algorithms to quantify cell migration direction and morphology in a 3D environment.

Niladri Gomes

Computational Scientist – Quantum

Niladri is a computational scientist at the Research Computing Center (RCC), specializing in quantum computing. Prior to joining the RCC, Niladri was a postdoctoral researcher in the Applied Computing for Scientific Discovery group at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab. His past research involved developing novel algorithms for quantum computers to solve scientific problems and beyond. He is also interested in exploring other aspects of advanced numerical methods. He completed his Ph.D. in condensed matter physics at the University of Arizona, where he developed codes for the Path Integral Renormalization Group (PIRG) method to study superconductivity in two-dimensional materials. 

Ross Hyman

Grant Solutions Architect

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.

Aleksandr Lykhin

Computational Scientist – Data Security Engineer

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

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 Ph.D. 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, HPC

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.

Himanshi Yadav

Research Data Scientist – Natural Language Processing

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.

Youzhi Yu

Computational Scientist – Chicago Booth

Youzhi is the Computational Scientist at the University of Chicago’s Research Computing Center, working with the Booth School of Business. His expertise lies in the R programming language, data visualization, text analysis, machine learning both in theory and in practice, and developing software packages to enhance data science workflow and pipeline. As an avid R user and developer, Youzhi is the sole author of a number of R packages published on CRAN (e.g., ggchangepoint, tidyEmoji). 

Previously, Youzhi worked at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) as a summer Ph.D. intern, conducting an R workshop and carrying out extensive data wrangling, modeling, and survival analysis on the tenure of telephone survey operators. While working with Chicago Booth, he earned a Ph.D. in Data Science and therefore is a data scientist by training. 

Mohsen Zand

Computational Scientist – Machine Learning

Mohsen is a Computational Scientist at the Research Computing Center (RCC), specializing in Computer Vision and Machine Learning. Prior to joining the RCC, Mohsen served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Robotics and Computer Vision (RCV) lab at Queen's University in Canada. During this time, he was actively involved with the Ambient Intelligence and Interactive Machines (Aiim) lab and the Ingenuity Labs Research Institute.

Mohsen's research lies at the intersection of computer vision, machine learning, and robotics. He focuses on advancing the development of efficient and robust methods for object recognition, pose determination, and tracking. He has published in various venues  including IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Journal of Visual Communication and Image Representation, ECCV, 3DV, ICASSP, ICIP, VISAPP, and CRV. 

HPC Systems and Operations

Virender Kumar

HPC System Engineer

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.   

Gustavo Garcia Rondina

HPC System Administrator

Gustavo is a high-performance computing (HPC) system administrator driven by a deep enthusiasm for technology and scientific computing. With a background spanning over seven years in the administration of Linux-based HPC clusters, he focuses on the maintenance of the Research Computing Center's (RCC) HPC infrastructure with the ultimate goal of providing a positive user experience and comprehensive support to users from all scientific backgrounds. Before joining the RCC, Gustavo played a pivotal role in supporting HPC operations within the chemical industry in Germany.

Gustavo holds a Ph.D. in Computational Chemistry from the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany, complemented by a Master's degree in Computational Physics from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. His experience and academic achievements underscore his commitment to advancing the HPC endeavors of RCC.

Varun Sharma

HPC Systems Engineer

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.