Deputy-Director

Berkeley Lab Deputy Director for Research Horst D. Simon

horst-simon

Horst Simon is an internationally recognized expert in computer science and applied mathematics and the Deputy Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Simon joined Berkeley Lab in early 1996 as director of the newly formed National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), and was one of the key architects in establishing NERSC at its new location in Berkeley.

Under his leadership NERSC enabled important discoveries for research in fields ranging from global climate modeling to astrophysics. Simon was also the founding director of Berkeley Lab’s Computational Research Division, which conducts applied research and development in computer science, computational science, and applied mathematics.

In his prior role as Associate Lab Director for Computing Sciences, Simon helped to establish Berkeley Lab as a world leader in providing supercomputing resources to support research across a wide spectrum of scientific disciplines. He is also an adjunct professor in the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.

In that role he worked to bring the Lab and the campus closer together, developing a designated graduate emphasis in computational science and engineering. In addition, he has worked with project managers from the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and other agencies, helping researchers define their project requirements and solve technical challenges.

Simon’s research interests are in the development of sparse matrix algorithms, algorithms for large-scale eigenvalue problems, and domain decomposition algorithms for unstructured domains for parallel processing. His algorithm research efforts were honored with the 1988 and the 2009 Gordon Bell Prize for parallel processing research.

He was also member of the NASA team that developed the NAS Parallel Benchmarks, a widely used standard for evaluating the performance of massively parallel systems. He is co-editor of the biannual TOP500 list that tracks the most powerful supercomputers worldwide, as well as related architecture and technology trends.

He holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the Technische Universität, in Berlin, Germany, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley.

 

Q & A With Berkeley Lab Deputy Director Horst Simon

Horst Simon, an internationally recognized expert in computer science and applied mathematics, was named Berkeley Lab’s Deputy Director on September 13, 2010.

Simon joined the Lab in early 1996 as director of the newly formed National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), and was one of the key architects in establishing NERSC at its new location in Berkeley. Under his leadership NERSC enabled important discoveries in fields ranging from global climate modeling to astrophysics.
simon5-300x162

Simon was also the founding director of Berkeley Lab’s Computational Research Division, which conducts applied research and development in computer science, computational science, and applied mathematics.

In his tenure at the Lab, Simon has helped to establish Berkeley Lab as a world leader in providing supercomputing resources to support research. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley, where he has helped developing a designated graduate emphasis in computational science and engineering. At the announcement of his appointment, Simon sat down with Public Affairs to share his vision about his new position as Deputy Director.

 

How do you see your role as Deputy Director of the Laboratory?

My first responsibility as deputy is to help the Lab Director develop and implement his strategic vision for the Lab. Paul Alivisatos has set the Lab’s research agenda, and he is the advocate for the most high profile projects, like the Next Generation Light Source and Carbon Cycle 2.0.

I see the role of deputy as complementing the director, working closely with him to help him carry out his research priorities, but also to help nurture those projects that are of great importance, but perhaps not necessarily at the forefront of the Lab’s agenda. In the next decade we will also have exciting new scientific opportunities ahead in exascale computational science, matter and energy in the universe, and in the bio and life sciences.

In the next decade we will also have exciting new scientific opportunities ahead in exascale computational science, matter and energy in the universe, and in the bio and life sciences.

As a multi-program lab Berkeley Lab has a large and diverse portfolio of scientific programs, and I am looking forward to supporting the director in assuring the scientific success of all of our programs. And of course, part of my role is also to represent the lab’s scientific programs to DOE program managers and other stakeholders, and to build relationships with other laboratories, the university community and international collaborators.

 

You’ve had the benefit of observing a number of Director/Deputy relationships during your time here. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from them, and how have they influenced your approach to the job?

I’ve worked with a lot of fine Deputy Directors, but one that had a particularly strong influence on me and my career was Pier Oddone. Pier was the deputy when I first arrived at the Lab, and I always thought of him as someone I could turn to when I needed help.

In those days supercomputing was new to Berkeley Lab, and there were a lot of issues we faced, and Pier was very thoughtful and helpful to us as we integrated into the Lab.

In the same way, I’d like to serve as a trusted advisor to the scientific divisions and user facilities. I want to help them develop their programs and build their internal and external collaborations, to resolve problems and remove the obstacles that get in the way of them achieving their goals.

 

What are your plans for enabling cross-disciplinary research for such overarching projects as Carbon Cycle 2.0?

CC2.0 is an excellent initiative because it gets at what we should be doing more of at the Lab. The Lab’s research environment has changed. There is stronger competition–for talent, for students, for funding, etc. We’ve succeeded in being stronger through a more coherent management approach–building larger, more integrated teams across divisions and disciplines, and using them to address large-scale scientific challenges that can’t be addressed with a single PI. It’s a more strategic way to do research. I hope to see us integrate some of these large initiatives through labwide program of seminars, workshops, and retreats.

The Lab’s research environment has changed

Another aspect of CC2.0 is that we as a lab also need to become more energy efficient ourselves. A group of researchers has proposed an exciting plan for how we can become a net zero carbon lab by 2020. I look forward to encouraging this idea. We not only need to lead with our research, but also in our behavior as an organization when it comes to addressing the challenge of climate change.

 

What do you see as the key strategic directions you will be most able to advance or influence?

I’d like to see us drive innovation at the Lab through a focused use of the LDRD program and other special funds. I think we need to strike a balance between the “science we love” and large initiatives like CC2.0. We need to monitor project progress more closely and end projects when they are no longer productive. And I am looking forward to work closely with the Tech Transfer Office to help us take better advantage of the innovation culture at Berkeley Lab.

Computer Scientist Horst Simon Named Deputy Director for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

September 13, 2010 News Release
Contact: Pamela Patterson, pjpatterson@lbl.gov, 510-486-4045

BERKELEY, CA—Horst Simon, an internationally recognized expert in computer science and applied mathematics, has been named Deputy Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

“Horst is a strong leader who has helped to lead a tremendously productive program in high performance computing that is world-class,” said Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos. “As Deputy Director he’ll help me lead major scientific initiatives, oversee strategic research investments, and maintain the intellectual vitality of Berkeley Lab.”

Prior to this appointment, Simon served as Associate Lab Director for Computing Sciences. In his capacity as Associate Lab Director, Simon helped to establish Berkeley Lab as a world leader in providing supercomputing resources to support research in fields ranging from global climate modeling to astrophysics. He is also an adjunct professor in the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. In that role he worked to bring the Lab and the campus closer together, developing a designated graduate emphasis in computational science and engineering. In addition, he has worked with project managers from the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and other agencies, helping researchers define their project requirements and solve technical challenges.

simon2Simon joined Berkeley Lab in early 1996 as director of the newly formed National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), and was one of the key architects in establishing NERSC at its new location at Berkeley Lab. Under his leadership NERSC enabled important discoveries for research across a wide spectrum of scientific disciplines. Simon was also the founding director of Berkeley Lab’s Computational Research Division, which conducts applied research and development in computer science, computational science, and applied mathematics.

Simon’s research interests are in the development of sparse matrix algorithms, algorithms for large-scale eigenvalue problems, and domain decomposition algorithms for unstructured domains for parallel processing. His algorithm research efforts were honored with the 1988 and the 2009 Gordon Bell Prize for parallel processing research. He was also member of the NASA team that developed the NAS Parallel Benchmarks, a widely used standard for evaluating the performance of massively parallel systems. He is co-editor of the biannual TOP500 list that tracks the most powerful supercomputers worldwide, as well as related architecture and technology trends.

He holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the Technische Universtät, in Berlin, Germany, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley. Simon succeeds Jay Keasling, who served as interim Deputy Director. Keasling will return to his duties as Chief Executive Officer of the Joint BioEnergy Institute.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provides solutions to the world’s most urgent scientific challenges including clean energy, climate change, human health, and a better understanding of matter and force in the universe. The Lab is a world leader in improving our lives and knowledge of the world around us through innovative science, advanced computing and technology that makes a difference. Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the DOE Office of Science. Visit our website.