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, 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 centrally managed high-performance computing (HPC) systems and related services across the University. 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 annual procurement of supercomputing resources at MSI, 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 number of 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, 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.

Waqqar Ahmed

Training and Outreach Specialist

Waqqar is the Training and Outreach Specialist at the RCC with expertise in communication and project management. He is responsible for outreach and communications for the RCC, event planning and organization, and website and social media management.

Waqqar has spent the last seven years working as a teacher and a coordinator in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Libya, and the UK. He has taught at universities as a lecturer in English and at high schools as an English, Math, and Science teacher. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Law and Politics from Keele University and Master of Science in Politics and Government of the European Union from the London School of Economics.

Kathy Bauman

Assistant Director for Project Management

Kathy is the Assistant Director for Project Management for the Research Computing Center. Her responsibilities include managing RCC projects, programs, and new initiatives; 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 process, 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.  

Julian Beckman

Research Application Engineer

Julian is a Research Application Engineer at the RCC. As a member of the systems team, he develops and maintains tools used by the computational scientists and other users of the cluster, and administers the RCC's high-performance computing infrastructure.

Julian received his BA in Mathematics and his MS in Computer Science from the University of Chicago. As an undergraduate, he worked at the RCC to improve and maintain the software resources available through the RCC, and to help researchers make the most of the center's HPC resources. 

Peter Carbonetto

Senior Computational Scientist, Statistics and Genetics

Peter is a Senior Computational Scientist at the RCC, 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.

Callista Christ

Research Data Scientist

Callista is a Research Data Scientist at the RCC with expertise in Image Analysis and Natural Language Processing. Her favorite tools to use for RCC data analysis tasks are Python and SQL. 

Prior to joining the RCC, she received her Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics and her Bachelor of Arts in Physics at the University of Chicago. During her undergraduate studies, she worked on predicting the limitations of a satellite launched in 2018 for detecting exoplanets and used machine learning to classify astronomical images at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. 

Kaihua Ding  

Computational Scientist, Booth School 

Kai is an enthusiastic algorithm researcher. He has algorithm development expertise and enjoys cross-disciplinary research collaborations, with extensive experience of applying computational methods in a wide range of applications, e.g., time series forecasting, energy harvesting computation, and multi-disciplinary design optimization. He writes and learns new AI algorithms for fun, e.g., AI powered cartoons and chatbots. He has publications on predictive modeling, numerical methods, optimization, and error estimation. Kai welcomes any AI related discussions through emails.  

Prior to joining RCC, Kai was a research engineer on complex solvers for Ansys Inc. from 2018 to 2021. Kai received a B.S. and a B.Eng. in Applied Mathematics and Aerospace Engineering from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2011, and he received his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering and Scientific Computing from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2018. 

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. 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.

Cynthia Keel

Administrative Assistant to the Director
Phone: 773.702.3374 | Cynthia1@uchicago.edu

Cynthia is an experienced administrative professional with a strong background in nonprofit administration. She has been with the University of Chicago for almost 12 years and has worked in social services, primary public school education, religious, and community development while also heavily volunteering in these areas. She is in pursuit of her master’s degree and becoming a certified nonprofit professional from North Park University.

Virender Kumar

HPC System Engineer 

Virender Kumar 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, He holds various system-related certifications. 

Brooke Luetgert

Senior Computational Scientist, Social Sciences

Brooke Luetgert is a Senior Computational Scientist for the Social Sciences Division. Prior to joining the RCC, she was an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Research Methodology at Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey. She has multiple, distinguished publications on legislative compliance, European Union politics and public opinion formation. Her work on mixing methodological approaches to measure EU compliance received post-doctoral funding through the EU CORDIS Marie Curie program as well as a generous grant from Land Baden-Württemburg. Brooke lives on a farm with her husband and their three amazing little people. Together, they also run a thriving center for competitive robotics and computer coding in Batavia, IL.

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 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.

John Parker, PhD'20

Computational Scientist, Secure Data

John is a computational scientist at the RCC supporting and advancing the research activities at the University of Chicago’s Secure Data Enclave for research that involves sensitive data. He also supports computational projects that leverage GPUs and assists with the development of open-source scientific software.

John received his PhD in Physics from the University of Chicago, where he continued as a postdoc researching and developing new methods in computational electrodynamics and molecular dynamics. He enjoyed collaborations with research labs at the University of Chicago’s Physics and Chemistry departments, the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, and the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Labs.

Varun Sharma

HPC Systems Engineer

Varun serves as an HPC System Administrator at the 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 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 Sciencs (India), Ministry of External Affairs (India) and Bharti Airtel Limited. He obtained his bachelor's degree in Technology from Rajasthan Technical University (India) in 2011. 

Parmanand Sinha

Computational Scientist, GIS

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 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.

Yuxing Peng, PhD'14

Computational Scientist, Chemistry

As a computational scientist at the RCC, Yuxing works closely with faculty and researchers and serves as a technical domain expert in supporting and advising faculty on using high-performance computing (HPC) for their research and grant writing. He is experienced in programming, debugging, benchmarking, and conducting large-scale computer simulations on various types of parallel computing facilities provided by different HPC centers. His interest is to bridge the needs of the scientific research community to the capabilities of rapidly evolving parallel computing technology by providing advanced counseling and support.

Yuxing earned his doctorate in computational chemistry from the University of Chicago. During his graduate studies, Yuxing was involved in a wide range of projects with multiscale reactive modeling, molecular dynamics simulations, and coarse-graining simulations. He also participated in the writing of many research proposals applying external funds or computing resources for theoretical studies.

Teodora Szasz

Computational Scientist - Image Analysis, Visualization, and Machine Learning

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 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 RCC, 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.