H. Birali Runesha

Assistant vice president for research computing 
Director of the Research Computing Center
Phone: 773.702.5977 | Fax: 773.834.9199 | runesha@uchicago.edu

As assistant 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 17 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
Phone: 773-834-3183 | waqqar@uchicago.edu

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 at the London School of Economics.


Peter Carbonetto

Computational scientist, statistics and genetics

Peter is a computational scientist at the RCC, with expertise in quantitative and data-intensive aspects of genetics and statistics. He has spent most of the past seven years conducting research at the interface of statistics, large-scale computation, and genomics, with additional background in computer science, machine learning, numerical optimization and computational statistics.

Before joining the RCC team, Peter was a staff scientist at Ancestry.com. Prior to that, he was a research fellow in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago, where he advanced statistical approaches for the discovery of genetic factors contributing to complex diseases and traits in mice and humans. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of British Columbia.


Mengxing Cheng

HPC system administrator
773.702.4070 | mxcheng@uchicago.edu

Mengxing is an HPC system administrator for the Research Computing Center. His primary role is to administrate and develop the center’s infrastructure hardware and middleware. In addition, he works closely with the consultants to provide best practice solutions to faculty, students, and research fellows.

Mengxing received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Florida in 2010 for his theoretical research on quantum magnetic impurity. Prior to joining the RCC team, he worked as research associate at the University of Florida and HPC system administrator at Florida International University. He has been participating in several NSF projects to enhance performance and security of cyberinfrastructure.


S. Sergio Elahi

Application software developer

As the application software developer at RCC, Sergio’s role is to make technology and data accessible by designing and developing rich data-driven applications that take advantage of RCC’s resources and HPC systems. His expertise is in user-centered interface design, software development, and computer graphics. Prior to joining the RCC team, Sergio worked for DePaul University designing, developing, and implementing software applications along with designing and teaching STEAM college service-learning courses.

Sergio earned his master’s in computer graphics and motion technology from DePaul University along with an undergraduate degree in human-computer interaction and certifications in analytics, geographic information systems, web development, and teaching and learning.


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.


Michael Hochman, AB’17

Data Portal Developer

Michael is a Data Portal Developer for the RCC. Prior to this, Michael was a student in the College, graduating with a degree in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science.


Lela Manning

Programs administrator
Phone: 773.834.2944 | lmanning@uchicago.edu

Lela is the programs administrator for the RCC. Her primary role is managing the ongoing projects and programs for the RCC. In addition, she works closely with the Consultant Partnership Program (ConPP) and the Cluster Partnership Program (CPP) by responding promptly to all faculty and researchers requests to participate.

Lela received her MPH and her MBA from Saint Xavier University in 2006. Prior to joining the RCC team, she worked for a small safety net hospital in Chicago as their foundation coordinator, working in the community to raise funding for various programs that benefited lower income residents.


Milson Munakami

Scientific Application Developer

Milson is a Scientific Application Developer at the RCC with a primary focus on developing and building dynamic and more interactive web pages using a variety of scientific applications, techniques, and tools. His role also involves providing technical support to troubleshoot user, hardware, and scientific software problems, evaluation and testing of new or future development, releases, and enhancements.

Milson has a master’s degree in computer science from Boise State University. He is an experienced professional with great experience working in multifaceted enterprise environments and has held various important positions in different IT companies. He is passionate about core technologies like .NET, C, C++, C#, Java, Ruby, and Python, to name just a few. He is also a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) who writes, runs codes, and love to contribute to the community. He strongly believes that learning new skills is a never-ending process and it that it gets bigger and better when shared with others.


Ramesh Nair

Assistant director of operations
773.702.8643 | nairr@uchicago.edu

Ramesh Nair is the assistant director of operations at RCC. He oversees RCC’s various programs and operations and contributes to its strategic planning, and works collaboratively with University faculty and RCC users to understand and ensure RCC’s research computing resources meet their current and future computational and data needs.

Ramesh earned a doctorate in biotechnology from the University of Saskatchewan. He has previously worked as a scientist at Pioneer Hi-Bred and Iowa State University, and as a research director at Edenspace Systems Corporation and at Chromatin, Inc. He is experienced in project management, research management, and strategic planning, and is also a co-inventor on 12 issued patents.


Yuxing Peng, PhD'14

Computational scientist, chemistry
Phone: 773.702.6034 | yuxing@uchicago.edu

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.


Hossein Pourreza

Computational scientist, generalist

As a computational scientist, Hossein works with faculty members in different disciplines. Having a Ph.D. in computer science, Hossein has more than 10 years of experience in software development, parallel programming, and debugging and optimizing code. He has also conducted several workshops related to high-performance computing. Prior to joining RCC, Hossein worked for Compute Canada as an HPC specialist where he received the Compute Canada Excellence award for his dedication to work with faculty members and graduate students.


Giselle E. Requejo

Administrative assistant to Dr. H. Birali Runesha
773.702.3374 | giselle2@uchicago.edu

As an Administrative assistant, Giselle is responsible for being the primary office administrator of the RCC as well as coordinating RCC’s events and internal processes. She also assists Dr. Runesha with any clerical and scheduling tasks as they come.

Prior to joining the RCC team, she was an assistant to the chair of Humanities and Sciences at Miami Dade College. She received a bachelor’s degree in management from Miami-Dade College and is currently finishing her master of science in engineering management.


Jonathan Skone

Computational scientist, molecular engineering
Phone: 773.702.0507 | jhskone@uchicago.edu

Jonathan is a computational scientist with the RCC at the University of Chicago, where his primary role is to provide HPC solutions to support the multidisciplinary research efforts of the Institute for Molecular Engineering. He is also an affiliate of Argonne National Laboratory, serving to strengthen the research computing partnership between the University and Argonne.

Prior to joining the RCC team, Jonathan held research associate appointments with Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University of California, Davis, and Argonne National Laboratory, where he pursued projects related to energy conversion and storage processes as well as methodological development for molecular and condensed matter systems. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University.


Teodora Szasz

Image analysis and data visualization specialist
Phone: 773.834.2917 | tszasz@uchicago.edu

As an image analysis and data visualization specialist at RCC, Teodora engages the community of researchers involved in computational image analysis at UChicago across application areas such as biology, physics, chemistry, and medical physics. She is developing best practices for using image data visualization and analysis tools. She has programming experience with the state-of-the-art software toolkits for image data visualization.

Teodora earned her doctorate from the University of Toulouse (France) at Toulouse Institute of Computer Science Research. She was primarily working on beamforming methods for medical ultrasound imaging. Teodora earned her master’s degree in multimedia technologies at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca in Romania, with focus on medical image processing. During her studies, she was a student worker for three years at Neurostar Gmbh (Germany) where she developed tools for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.


Jeffrey Tharsen, PhD'15

Computational scientist, digital humanities
Phone: 773.834.5534 | tharsen@uchicago.edu

As the digital humanities computational scientist at the RCC, Jeff works closely with humanities faculty and researchers and serves as research and computing expert for digital and computational approaches to humanistic inquiry. He is experienced in a range of programming languages, database and archival systems architecture, and customized application development. His primary interest lies in developing computational methods for philological and linguistic research, advanced methods for information storage and retrieval, and data visualization.

Jeff recently earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago's East Asian Languages & Civilizations department, primarily working in the fields of Chinese philology, poetics, and paleography. During his graduate studies, Jeff received a Fulbright award for his Digital Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese, a software suite which facilitates the analysis of Chinese historical phonology. He has also consulted on grant applications for a variety of digital humanities projects and regularly presents at various national and international conferences.


Igor Yakushin

Computational scientist, astrophysics

As a computational scientist, Igor interfaces RCC with the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. Before joining the University of Chicago, he worked at the Institute for CyberScience at Pennsylvania State University. He has also held positions at LIGO Livingston Observatory at the California Institute of Technology, and at the BIOS Group, Inc.

Igor has a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and an MS in computer science from the University of Alabama and an MS in theoretical physics from Moscow State University. He is an author of over 50 publications, including an article announcing the first discovery of gravitational waves by LIGO.