NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery for 50 Years

NERSC@50 Seminar Series

More talks will be posted on this page and in the NERSC events calendar as speakers are confirmed.

All events are held remotely and are free and open to the public. Attendance information is posted prior to the talk.

Miss a Talk?

Videos of past presentations are embedded on this page and available on the NERSC YouTube channel.

July 22, 2024
1:30 - 2 p.m.

The JGI-NERSC Partnership: Lessons in Data-Intensive Computing at Scale

Kjiersten Fagnan, Chief Informatics Officer, DOE Joint Genome Institute


Kjiersten Fagnan, Joint Genome Institute)

About the Speaker

Kjiersten Fagnan began working with JGI in 2012 as a NERSC bioinformatics computing consultant, after completing a petascale postdoctoral fellowship at NERSC and LBL’s Computational Research Division.. As a postdoc her research focused on stable and accurate computational methods for reacting subsurface flows, and evolved into scalable methods for scientific data analysis. In 2014 Dr. Fagnan became the JGI-NERSC Engagement Lead with a focus on adapting JGI workloads to run on supercomputing hardware and worked closely with staff to understand the data-intensive nature of JGI workloads. Dr. Fagnan was appointed CIO of JGI in 2016 and in 2018 was hired to be the JGI’s Data Science and Informatics department head. In 2018, Dr. Fagnan was part of the Gordon Bell prize winning team at the Supercomputing conference, SC’18, led by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dr. Fagnan has been the Distinguished Speaker at IBM Research in Almaden where she presented work related to distributed data and workflow management. Dr. Fagnan is also a co-PI for the National Microbiome Data Collaborative where she leads infrastructure and user-centered design efforts.


Fifteen years ago, the Joint Genome Institute (JGI)  and NERSC formed a partnership to support the exponentially increasing scale of genomics data generation. There were close collaborations on data management, high-performance computing, and complex workflow deployments that have been foundational to JGI's efforts in resilient, distributed computing. In this talk, I'll highlight past successes, scientific discoveries, and JGI's NESAP-IRI Pathfinder project. 

How to Attend

Attendance is free and open to the public via Zoom.

Zoom Link:

Past Talks

June 24, 2024
1:30 - 2 p.m. PDT

Solving the Puzzling and Formidable Multiscale Multi-Physics Problems in Tokamak Edge

CS Chang, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory


CS Chang, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

About the Speaker

CS Chang has led several large scale multi-institutional, multidisciplinary projects, which included a Fusion Simulation Prototype Center, SciDAC-2, SciDAC-3 and SciDAC-4 Fusion Edge Simulation centers, the ECP Whole Device Modeling project (Co-lead), and the ECP co-design project CoPA (Co-design of Particle Application, Institutional PI). The unique fusion gyrokinetic code XGC (X-point included Gyrokinetic Code) developed by his team has become one of the representative US exascale codes, co-developed in tight collaboration among physicists, applied mathematicians, computer scientists, and performance engineers. CS Chang is a Managing Principal Physicist at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and a “Sits with Committee” member at Princeton University PICSciE (Princeton Institute for Computational Science & Engineering). He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and an ITER Science Fellow. Before joining Princeton, he was a Physics Professor at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and, jointly, a Research Professor at Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University. In his early days, he held a Senior Scientist position at General Atomics. He had his B.S. degree in Physics from Seoul National University in 1974 and Ph.D. degree in Physics from The University of Texas at Austin in 1979.


Tokamak magnetic fusion experiments have long found that the core plasma performance and the fusion reactor operation condition are mostly governed by the edge plasma condition: The tail is wagging the dog. Experimental observations of edge plasma behaviors were mystifying to plasma physicists who had traditional theoretical tools. Edge plasma is governed by nonlinear interactions between multiscale multi-physics phenomena in odd geometry. A first-principles based code was needed to attack such complex problems in realistic geometry on large-scale computer, but was a difficult mission without a proper platform. In this talk, I would like to highlight some ITER critical physics problems and describe how NERSC has contributed to solving them or discovering them. I have been a user of NERSC systems for almost 50 years since the CTRCC and MFECC era. The width and depth of my research have grown in a transformative way together with the growth of the computing power.

June 17, 2024
1:30 - 2 p.m. PDT

In person in Room 4102 and online via Zoom.

Intuitive Supercomputing for X-Rayers

Dula Parkinson, Advanced Light Source / Berkeley Lab


Dula Parkinson, Advanced Light Source, Berkeley Lab

About the Speaker

Dula Parkinson is the Deputy for Photon Science Operations and the Program Lead for Diffraction and Imaging at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. After completing a PhD in physical chemistry at UC Berkeley in 2006, he was a postdoctoral fellow with Carolyn Larabell, using soft X-ray nano-tomography to collect 3D images of single cells. In 2010, he became a beamline scientist at the ALS, leading the Hard X-ray micro-Tomography program at Beamline 8.3.2, working with ALS users to image a variety of samples. He has been a proud user of NERSC since 2010. Since that time he has been involved in efforts to connect experimental and computational facilities and provide users with access to powerful computing and data management resources through intuitive interfaces.


Upgraded accelerators like the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Berkeley Lab make brighter X-ray beams for new science and faster experiments, attracting an increasing variety of new users. Supporting these users in handling the big data during their experiments has pushed us to provide them with computing tools that are powerful but intuitive to use. NERSC has been an essential partner along the way, including most recently in the SuperFacility effort. This talk will describe this team science effort, and the essential role NERSC has played in the success of ALS studies of deep earth, deep space, and a lot in between.

June 3, 2024
1:30 - 2 p.m. PDT

Prediction and Design of Protein Interactions

David Baker, Institute for Protein Design / University of Washington


David Baker

David Baker, Institute for Protein Design, University of Washington

About the Speaker

David Baker is the director of the Institute for Protein Design, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, a professor of biochemistry, and an adjunct professor of genome sciences, bioengineering, chemical engineering, computer science, and physics at the University of Washington. His research group is focused on the design of macromolecular structures and functions.

Baker has published more than 600 research papers, been granted more than 100 patents, and cofounded 17 companies. Over 70 of his mentees have gone on to independent faculty positions. 

Baker received his PhD in biochemistry with Randy Schekman at UC Berkeley and did postdoctoral work in biophysics with David Agard at UCSF. He is a recipient of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Proteins mediate the critical processes of life and beautifully solve the challenges faced during the evolution of modern organisms. Our goal is to design a new generation of proteins that address current-day problems not faced during evolution. In contrast to traditional protein engineering efforts, which have focused on modifying naturally occurring proteins, we design new proteins from scratch to optimally solve the problem at hand. I will describe these studies and also the proteome-level prediction of protein interactions, and the key contributions NERSC has made to both efforts.

May 20, 2024
1:30 - 2 p.m., PDT

Reaction-driven Formation of Novel Active Sites on Catalytic Surfaces

Manos Mavrikakis, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Manos Mavrikakis, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison

About the Speaker

Manos Mavrikakis is the Ernest Micek Distinguished Chair, James A. Dumesic Professor, and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been a NERSC user for more than 24 years.


Adsorption of reactants and reaction intermediates on solid catalytic surfaces can lead to significant changes in the surface structure, including, as shown in high-pressure Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) experiments, ejection of metal atoms and formation of metal clusters while the reaction is taking place. Depending on the specific system, these clusters provide new, more favorable reaction paths than the typically considered active sites. First-principles computations coupled with kinetic Monte Carlo simulations, all performed at large scale on NERSC resources, enable a more realistic picture of the catalyst’s surface and its active sites as a function of reaction conditions and the identity of reactants and that of critical intermediates. Insights derived from our analysis can inform the design of new catalysts with improved activity, selectivity, and stability characteristics.

April 15, 2024
1:30 - 2 p.m., PDT

What We Have Learned about the Universe from Low-Energy Neutrino Physics Experiments and NERSC’s Role in the Discoveries

Alan Poon, Berkeley Lab


Smiling man wearing wireframed glasses in gray jacket and plaid shirt.

Alan Poon, Nuclear Science Division, Berkeley Lab

About the Speaker

Alan Poon is the program head for Fundamental Symmetries and Neutrinos and a senior physicist in the Nuclear Science Division at Berkeley Lab. He has been a NERSC user for over 20 years.


NERSC is instrumental in discovering neutrino flavor transformation and various investigations of fundamental neutrino properties. These discoveries represent a paradigm shift in our understanding of neutrinos. They establish the massive nature of these elusive particles, contrary to their prescription in the Standard Model of Elementary Particles.

In this talk to commemorate NERSC’s 50th anniversary, I will discuss the neutrino discoveries it enabled in the golden era of neutrino physics in the previous three decades. These notable results include the resolution of the Solar Neutrino Problem and the discovery of neutrino flavor transformation by the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, recognized in the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics; the discovery of neutrino oscillations in reactor neutrinos and the measurement of terrestrial radiogenic heat production through geo-neutrinos by the KamLAND experiment, recognized in the same Breakthrough Prize that year; the investigations of whether neutrinos are their own antiparticles though a rare nuclear decay with a lifetime exceeding 12 orders of magnitude beyond the age of the Universe by the MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR, LEGEND, and the CUORE experiments; and the most sensitive laboratory measurement of the neutrino mass by the KATRIN experiment.

More Speakers

  • July 22, Kjiersten Fagnan, Joint Genome Institute
  • July 29, 2024: Ruby Leung, Pacific Northwest National Lab, “Earth System Modeling for Actionable Science”
  • August 5, 2024: Julian Borrill, Berkeley Lab, “Big Bang, Big Data, Big Iron - 50 Years of Cosmic Microwave Background Studies at NERSC”
  • August 12, 2024: Jean-Luc Vay, Berkeley Lab
  • August 26, 2024: Peter Nugent, Berkeley Lab
  • September 16, 2024: John Bell, Berkeley Lab
  • September 23, 2004: Stephen Bailey, Berkeley Lab
  • October 7, 2024: Jeff Neaton, Berkeley Lab
  • October 28, 2024: Steve Gottlieb, University of Indiana