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NERSC HPC Achievement Awards

The NERSC HPC Achievement Awards are presented annually to recognize extraordinary scientific achievement from NERSC users and to encourage the innovative use of NERSC's High Performance Computing and Data systems. NERSC users, project Principal Investigators, project managers, PI proxies, and DOE Program Managers can nominate any NERSC user or collaboratory group whose research is significantly based on work performed using NERSC's facilities and services.

Winners are announced at the annual NERSC Users Group meeting, listed on the NERSC web site, and highlighted in NERSC press releases. Winners are chosen by representatives from the NERSC Users' Group Executive Committee and NERSC staff. Selections are made based on innovations and achievements that substantially used NERSC resources. Those resources could be any combination of computational systems, storage systems, and/or NERSC HPC services.

There are two awards, each with separate Open and Early Career categories.

NERSC Award for Innovative Use of High Performance Computing

This award honors innovative use of NERSC's HPC resources. Examples include introducing HPC to a new science domain or a novel use of HPC resources. Anything that puts a fresh perspective on HPC or presents a new way to solve a problem is considered.

Open Category

Early Career Category (Students and Postdocs)

Awards to present at NUG 2017 will be based on work performed at NERSC  and published or submitted in the last two years.

NERSC Award for High Impact Scientific Achievement

This award recognizes work that has had, or is expected to have, an exceptional impact on scientific understanding, engineering design for scientific facilities, and/or a broad societal impact.

Open Category

Early Career Category (Students and Postdocs)


Awards to present at NUG 2017 will be based on work performed at NERSC and submitted or published in the last two years.

Past Recipients

 High Impact Science Achievement 

  • 2016: Charles Koven and William Riley (Berkeley Lab’s Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division) and David Lawrence (National Center for Atmospheric Research) for using an Earth system model to demonstrate the atmospheric effect of emissions released from carbon sequestered in melting permafrost soil"
  • 2016 Early Career: Nathan Howard, MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center, for "pioneering computational work in plasma turbulence simulations."
  • 2015: Berkeley Lab’s BELLA (Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator) team for "its work using NERSC resources to design and configure the world's most powerful compact particle accelerator"
  • 2015 Early Career: Ken Chen, Postdoctoral Researcher at UC Santa Cruz, for his "study of the explosion of very massive stars in multiple dimensions."
  • 2014: The Planck Collaboration for  "the most detailed map ever made of the Cosmic Microwave Background – the remnant radiation from the Big Bang that refined some of the fundamental parameters of cosmology and physics."
  • 2014 Early Career: Victor Ovchinnikov, Harvard University for "outstanding contributions to the field of computational modeling of conformational transitions in large biological molecules."
  • 2013: Jeff Grossman and David Cohen-Tanugi (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for "developing a new approach for desalinating seawater using sheets of graphene, a one-atom-thick form of the element carbon."
  • 2013 Early Career: Tanmoy Das, Postdoctoral Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory for "computational work to understand fundamental materials aspects in three different areas."

Innovative Use of HPC

  • 2016: Scott French (UC Berkeley) for "creating a unique 3D scan of the Earth’s interior that resolved some long-standing questions about mantle plumes and volcanic hotspots using one of the first production codes to use UPC++: a new partitioned global address space programming system developed by researchers in the DEGAS group at Berkeley Lab"
  • 2015: SPOT Suite Team (Berkeley Lab) for "transforming the way scientists run their experiments and analyze data collected from DOE light sources."
  • 2014: Jean-Luc Vay (Berkeley Lab’s Accelerator and Fusion Research Division) for "developing innovative algorithms that greatly improved the use of high performance computing to advance the simulation of charged particles, beams and plasmas."
  • 2013: Peter Nugent (Berkeley Lab) and the Palomar Transient Factory Team (Caltech) for "detection of transient events that leads to a greater understanding of astrophysical objects like supernovae, active galaxies and gamma-ray bursts, among a variety of other known and unknown cosmic phenomena"