Supercomputing Training at Argonne National Laboratory

Fatima Bagheri is a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her research is focused on using computers to model the magnetic fields of exoplanets — planets that orbit stars outside of our solar system.

Fatima Bagheri, a National Science Foundation (NSF) postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Arlington, was one of 75 students selected to attend an intensive program on supercomputing at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago.

With support from the Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Program, Bagheri participated in the Argonne Training Program on Extreme-Scale Computer (ATPESC) aimed at teaching attendees the ins and outs of using the latest supercomputers. Bagheri said she came to ATPESC to expand her knowledge of high-performing computers (HPC) like exascales and learn methods that could advance her research into exoplanets, which orbit stars outside our solar system.

“Deploying our code to exascale machines requires revamping our codebase and adapting it to take advantage of hardware accelerators,” Bagheri said. “I know that is no easy task and could require multiple years of teamwork. I plan to communicate the ideas and tools I learned at ATPESC with my collaborators to lay out a plan toward reaching this goal.”

Born and raised in Iran, Bagheri began her doctoral studies at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin after immigrating to the United States in 2017. She spent a year in Austin as a visiting researcher before coming to UTA to pursue her doctorate in physics. In 2021, Bagheri earned a fellowship from the NSF that included a $200,000 award to fund her study of exoplanets and their magnetic fields.

“The planets’ magnetic fields are essential and required for life as we know it on Earth,” Bagheri said. “Understanding their origins and their interactions with their stellar hosts helps us better access the possibility of extraterrestrial life in the universe.

“This ATPESC workshop offered me a unique opportunity to expand my knowledge of HPC techniques that are highly relevant to my research goals. It allowed me to interact with, network with and seek advice from world experts on these techniques, ultimately leading to better parallel software development practices in my research and open-source libraries to which I contribute.”

Supercomputers like the ones at Argonne can come with a steep learning curve. They must be used with specialized hardware, scientific tools and techniques that are constantly evolving as technology advances. The training provided by Argonne included lectures, hands-on sessions with Department of Energy supercomputers and evening talks. The curriculum included everything from emerging hardware technologies to software development to using artificial intelligence in research applications.

“ATPESC is all about equipping researchers with the skills and knowledge they need to harness the world’s most powerful supercomputers for groundbreaking science and engineering,” said Ray Loy, ATPESC program director and lead for training, debugging and math libraries at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility.

Founded in 2013 for specialized researchers with some experience in HPC, the Argonne program is designed to help scientists take their skills to the next level. There are no fees for researchers to attend, and they are provided complimentary airfare, meals and lodging.

“If I had a colleague or peer considering applying for ATPESC next year, I would tell to make the most of this unique, once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity,” Bagheri said.

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