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Nineteen Students Selected for 2018 Blue Waters Student Internship Program

Nineteen undergraduate students from across the U.S. have been selected to participate in the Blue Waters Student Internship Program for the 2018-2019 academic year. This program, a collaboration between the National Center for Supercomputing Applications' (NCSA) Blue Waters project and Shodor Education Foundation, is now entering into its tenth year and provides a year-long opportunity for undergraduate students to learn how to apply high-performance computing to problems in science, mathematics, and engineering.

The internship pairs students with faculty mentors, typically from their home campus, and a research project for them to tackle. Each student is given a stipend totaling $5000, access to a two-week intensive high-performance computing workshop, and an education allocation on the Blue Waters system. Select students will also be given the opportunity to present a poster on their project at the 2019 Blue Waters Symposium in Sunriver, Oregon.

The program commences with a two-week training institute at the NCSA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Students attend hands-on lectures throughout the first week to learn about Blue Waters and high-performance computing applications. The second week serves as the kick-off point for their research projects, providing an opportunity for the interns to develop their research plans for the remainder of the year.

This internship program excels at developing future leaders in HPC. Colleen Heinemann, for example, a 2014-2015 Blue Waters intern who studied improving supercomputing curriculum for Blue Waters, is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois. She’s working to make scientific data more accessible and useful by transforming it into virtual objects you can see, touch and manipulate in 3-D space. Learn more about how her Blue Waters internship kick-started her research career in this video.

Aaron Weeden, another former Blue Waters intern (2009-2010) who now works at the Shodor Education Foundation and coordinates the Blue Waters Student Internship Program, is excited to welcome the new group of students.

“Blue Waters interns are always an inspiring group of young researchers, and this new cadre is no different. These undergraduates will gain real computational science experience on one of the world's fastest supercomputers, with opportunities to publish their results, including in a peer-reviewed journal. Former interns credit the program with helping foster a passion for research computing and opening the door to additional career opportunities. I am thrilled to be able to help facilitate these experiences.”

The following interns were selected via a highly competitive nationwide application process. Their full bios and additional information about the program may be found on the Blue Waters Portal.

  • Alaina Edwards, University of Arkansas, will be looking at efficient use of High Performance Computing (HPC) resources for Optimized Computational Fluid Dynamics.
  • Asma Lama Tamang, Oklahoma State University, will construct a novel, three-dimensional water quality model for Sooner Lake Reservoir, OK.
  • Bryton Anderson, Boise State University, will be studying why transition metal oxides that make great catalysts transform into ineffective structures at high temperatures.
  • Carley Garlasco, Kean University, will be working on the Parallel Stability Analysis of Exoplanetary Systems detected via Radial Velocity.
  • Carlos Barragan, California State University, Fullerton; will search for chemically relevant structures in unexplored regions of the potential energy aspect.
  • Christopher Harnish, Bluffton University, will study molecular dynamics simulations that track thermally-induced vacancy transitions in hexagonal and face-centered cubic solids.
  • Elliott Vanderford, University of Oklahoma, will utilize molecular dynamics simulations to study Amyloid-ß in the presence of certain lipid molecules.
  • Faisal A. Aldukhi, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be studying the binding process of brassinolide, a plant hormone responsible for growth and elongation, to its receptor, Brassinosteroid Insensitive 1 (BRI1), located outside of the cell.
  • Greg Stroot, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be utilizing aeroacoustic analogies, flow-structure interaction solvers, and evolutionary optimization techniques to investigate the properties that affect the silent flight of the owl.
  • Hanjue Zhu, University of Chicago, will study cosmic reionization, analyzing the simulation results from the “Cosmic Reionization on Computers” project.
  • He He, Indiana University, will be studying Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) robotics in order to better predict the shortest path to deliver drugs or cells with high speed and accuracy.
  • Jan Chen, California State University, Fullerton; will work on an evolutionary algorithm of quantum chemical systems.
  • John McGarigal, University of Arkansas, will be working on a project focused on the Richtmyer Meshkov Instability, combing through the code in C++ and C, running tests through the supercomputing system at the University of Arkansas, and working to make the code more efficient.
  • Lakshay Gautam, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be working on developing parallel numerical codes for the simulation of energy transport and conversion in nanostructured semiconductor materials and devices.
  • Lauren Pounds, Mississippi State University, will be completing a project analyzing the importance of model physics in simulating environments associated with tornadogenesis within tropical cyclones.
  • Migle Surblyte, New Jersey Institute of Technology, is developing code to investigate novel mechanisms of blood clot formation using Lattice Light Sheet Microscopy and Lattice Boltzmann Method computational fluid dynamics.
  • Preet Patel, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; is investigating galactic formation through the use of hydrodynamic simulations.
  • Thomas Mulkey, Georgia Southern University, will develop a general theory of electromagnetic waves in quartic metamaterials so that starting from an arbitrary set of electromagnetic fields, the effective medium parameters for the quartic metamaterial that supports said fields can be determined.
  • Xiange Wang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be using the Blue Waters supercomputer to create and train deep learning models which predict structural accuracy using protein structural data in an effort to improve the current state of scoring functions.


The Blue Waters petascale supercomputer is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. Blue Waters uses hundreds of thousands of computational cores to achieve peak performance of more than 13 quadrillion calculations per second. With 1.5 petabytes of memory, Blue Waters has faster data storage than any other open system in the world. Scientists and engineers across the country use the computing and data power of Blue Waters to tackle a wide range of interdisciplinary challenges. Recent advances that were not possible without these resources include computationally designing the rst set of antibody prototypes to detect the Ebola virus, simulating the HIV capsid, visualizing the formation of the first galaxies and exploding stars, and understanding how the layout of a city can impact supercell thunderstorms.


Shodor, a national resource for computational science education, is located in Durham, N.C., and serves students and educators nationwide. Our online education tools such as Interactivate and the Computational Science Education Reference Desk (CSERD), a Pathway Portal of the National Science Digital Library (NSDL), help transform learning through computational thinking. Time and time again, Shodor has been recognized as a national leader and a premier resource in the effective use of computers to improve both math and science education.


The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation's science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students, and collaborators from around the globe use advanced digital resources to address research grand challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing one third of the Fortune 50® for more than 30 years by bringing industry, researchers, and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.