North East Research and Education Network Seminar

October 18, 2017

NEREN Seminar

“Bridging the Gap — Advancing Regional Collaboration and Research IT Collaboration”

Sponsored by Intel, Red River and Vast Data
Friday, October 27, 2017, 9:30AM– 3:00PM
Complimentary breakfast begins at 9:00 a.m.
At the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center (MGHPCC), 100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA 01040
In collaboration with UMass Amherst and the Massachusetts Green High- Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), The North East Research and Education Network (NEREN) presents the third in a series of day-long seminars devoted to Advanced Regional Collaboration, Research IT Collaboration and Research Computing. By attending in person, you will gain the added benefit of interpersonal networking with peers from across the Northeast region.

AGENDA – Friday, October 27, 2017

9:00AM – 9:45AM – Registration/Continental Breakfast/Networking Sponsored by Intel, Red River and Vast Data
9:45AM –10:00AM Welcoming/Opening Remarks (NEREN). Please note that the Webcast/Phone options will be available for the presentations only and not the breakout sessions.
10:00AM – 10:40AM — Presentation #1 – Title to be Confirmed (will focus on Science DMZs)
Presenter: Chris Hill, Principal Research Engineer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
10:40AM – 11:20AM — Presentation #2 – “Science DMZs: Advancing Research Today and Future Opportunities”
Presenter: Scott Valcourt, Director of Strategic Technology, University of New Hampshire
11:20AM –Noon — Presentation #3 – “Implementing Data Access Equality Across the Science DMZ”
Presenter: Jeff Denworth, Vice President – Products, Vast Data
New methods of distributed computing are challenging legacy concepts around data hierarchies and value-based data classification. In an age where collaboration and discovery become better as applications are exposed to larger data sets, new approaches need to be considered to feed the scientific process. In this talk, VAST Data will explore next generation concepts such as consumer flash, multi-tenancy and sw-defined storage and how they can be implemented within and beyond the DMZ to accelerate insight equally across all classes of data.
Noon – 12:30PM Lunch Break (Lunch sponsored by Intel, Red River and Vast Data)
12:30PM – 1:10PM — Presentation #4
Emerging Applications in HPC and their Impact on High Performance Fabrics”
Presenter:  Robert (Bob) C. Zak, Jr.Intel Fellow and Lead Architect for Intel® Omni-Path Architecture in the Data Center Group at Intel Corporation
Broadly stated, traditional HPC applications have focused on massively scaled simulation applications.  These applications apply known boundary conditions to a known computational model of a system, and iterate through time, producing massive predictive data on potential outcomes. Execution of these applications on Moore’s law driven processing elements connected via high performance and highly scalable fabrics have enabled, and will continue to drive major advances in many fields of science and engineering.
However, with the explosion of the availability of business, visual, sensor, and social networking data in the web, an alternative use of “HPC” infrastructure has emerged.  These applications, which include so called Analytics, Deep Learning, and AI, flip the simulation model on its head.  They start with a massive set of known outcomes and, thorough massive calculation, deduce (or train) a compact and computational model with predictive value.
In this talk, Bob will discuss the impact to the evolution of high performance fabrics of this expansion of “HPC” applications.
1:20PM – 2:20PM — Breakout sessions – Details to Follow. (The breakout sessions are not available by Webcast/Phone).
2:20 PM – 3:00PM — Closing remarks (Christopher Misra, UMass Amherst, Chief Technology Officer, Paul Krein, Vice President of Digital and Cloud Solutions, Red River)
To register, or If you have questions, please email Laurie Robinson, NEREN Program Administrator, at or by phone: 401-398-7511.

About our Presenters

Chris Hill
Principal Research Engineer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Chris Hill specializes in Earth and planetary computational science. He is interested in the application of large-scale computation to all aspects of understanding Earth and planetary systems. He was a founding developer of the M.I.T. General Circulation Model (MITgcm), a numerical simulation tool used for a wide range of basic science and applied studies in planetary fluid dynamics. He also helped launch the Earth System Modeling Framework (ESMF), a major open standard for creating multicomponent models of Earth system processes. In both activities he has been active in developing prognostic model and model- data synthesis tools. Recent work has included multi-physics, multi-scale models of fluid problems that have relevance to improved modeling of flows in inhomogeneous porous media. The approaches combine algorithmic ideas, with evolving designs in massively parallel computer systems to allow more accurate fluid simulation at a lower computational cost. The work exploits the ESMF multi-component coupling system to provide a general framework for modeling, in which a hierarchy of models is mapped to a hierarchy of hardware.
Hill co-leads the research, education and outreach committee of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC). The MGHPCC is a multi-university enterprise in Massachusetts, dedicated to enhancing large-scale computing infrastructure in the area. Hill has worked at MIT since 1993.
Scott Valcourt
Director of Strategic Technology – University of New Hampshire
Scott Valcourt serves as the Director of Strategic Technology in the Information Technology Department at the University of New Hampshire, and is the chief visionary for UNH’s investment in cyberinfrastructure. Additionally, he is an adjunct faculty member in the computer science department and the UNH Masters of Science in Analytics program. He is a former Director of the UNH InterOperability Laboratory where he researched and supported over 15 networking technologies. NetworkWorld Magazine named him one of the Fifty Most Powerful People in Networking in 2001 and he was inducted into the Broadband Forum’s Circle of Excellence in 2002. He earned a B.A. in computer science with mathematics emphasis from Saint Anselm College in 1992, a M.S. in computer science from the University of New Hampshire in 1999, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Systems Design at the University of New Hampshire. His research interests include cyberinfrastructure, computer security, software design, computer communications, and computer science education.
Jeff Denworth
Vice President of Products – Vast Data
Jeff Denworth is VAST’s VP of Products and brings to the company nearly 20 years of experience with advanced storage technologies and distributed systems. Previous to VAST, Jeff served in executive roles at CTERA, DDN and Cluster File Systems. In less than 5 years, Jeff earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing at Trenton State College (note: not affiliated with Trenton State Prison).
Paul Krein
CTO – Red River
Welcoming and Introduction of Jeff Denworth – Vast Data and Closing Remarks

Paul Krein is the CTO at Red River. He leads the technology strategy for Red River, leads the strategic solution and technology investment directions, and works with executives and technology leaders to understand the art of the possible, assess impacts of leading trends, and evaluate the economic changes in delivering data and computational capacity at scale.  Red River teams design and architect, build and run solutions for Healthcare/Lifesciences, Retail, Education and Government missions and infrastructure enabling greater efficiency and higher scale.  He is a change agent, has opened new markets throughout his career, and has lead sales, management and business operations functions.  Paul holds an M.B.A from the Simon School in Finance and Organizational Strategy, and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Rochester.
Christopher Misra
Chief Technology Officer, UMass Amherst Welcoming/Breakout Sessions/Closing Remarks
Christopher Misra is the Chief Technology Officer with the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he has worked for many years. His responsibilities include management of overall campus technology coordination, networking, data centers, information security program, identity management, and enterprise architecture. Chris has been active for many years with various regional and national information security organizations including the Security Task Force, Internet2 Salsa, and REN-ISAC, serving on program committees, chairing working groups, and presenting at conferences. Chris is also an instructor at UMass where he has taught undergraduate courses on Network Security for many years.
Robert (Bob) C. Zak, Jr.
Intel Fellow and Lead Architect for Intel® Omni-Path Architecture in the Data Center Group at Intel Corporation
Robert (Bob) C. Zak Jr. is an Intel Fellow and the lead architect for Intel® Omni-Path Architecture in the Data Center Group at Intel Corporation. He leads the development of Intel’s next-generation fabrics, which are targeted toward high-performance, scalable computing systems for demanding applications such as scientific computing, machine learning, data analytics and storage clusters.<div> </div>< div>A specialist in high-performance computer networking fabrics, Zak joined Intel in 2006. Before stepping into his current role in 2012, he spent several years as senior principal engineer in Intel’s pathfinding and architecture business unit. His work there included two-level memory architecture, non-volatile memory architecture and most recently,  microserver platform architecture.
Before joining Intel, Zak was a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems Inc. During his 10-year tenure at Sun, he contributed to networking strategy and served as an architect for UltraSPARC I/O, InfiniBand technology and scalable distributed cache architectures for enterprise servers. His work earned him the Sun Microsystems Chairman’s Award in 2002. Earlier in his career, Zak spent 10 years working in and eventually leading the network architecture program at Thinking Machines Corp.
Zak earned a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He holds nearly 20 patents in the areas of computer networking, performance instrumentation, distributed cache coherence and high-performance memory systems, with additional patents pending. Zak has also published multiple papers on high-performance networking design and instrumentation, high-performance computing system architecture, design-for-test infrastructure and memory architecture. In 2008, he won an Intel Achievement Award, the company’s highest recognition. He was appointed an Intel Fellow in 2017.


Intel invents at the boundaries of technology to make amazing experiences possible for society. Harnessing the capability of the cloud, the ubiquity of the Internet of Things, the latest advances in AI, and the promise of always-on 5G connectivity, Intel’s scalable and secure solutions help solve global challenges. Leading on policy, diversity, inclusion, education and sustainability, we create value for our customers and society. Find out more at
Red River brings together the ideal combination of talent, partners and products to disrupt the status quo in technology and drive success for business and government in ways previously unattainable. Red River serves organizations well beyond traditional technology integration, bringing more than 20 years of experience and mission-critical expertise in security, networking, analytics, collaboration, mobility and cloud solutions.
Red River delivers ongoing IT consulting, maintenance and support to ensure optimal success through an array of unique service offerings, including integrated Managed, Professional, Technical and Support Services. Whether you need help answering simple end-user inquiries with our 24x7x365 Network Operations Center, need to develop a path to the cloud, or implement new network security protocols, our certified experts are available to help.
VAST Data is building an altogether new type of storage architecture that is aimed to become an extinction-level event for the mechanical hard drive in the enterprise data center. In 2018, VAST will bring data centers onto an evolutionary curve that linearly scales with advances in silicon, eliminates storage tiering and unleashes access to vast reserves of data in order to achieve unprecedented insights. Learn more at Learn more at

Research projects

Dusty With a Chance of Star Formation
Checking the Medicine Cabinet to Interrupt COVID-19 at the Molecular Level
Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold But Still, Is It Just Right?​
Smashing Discoveries​
Microbiome Pattern Hunting
Modeling the Air we Breathe
Exploring Phytoplankton Diversity
The Computer Will See You Now
Computing the Toll of Trapped Diamondback Terrapins
Edging Towards a Greener Future
Physics-driven Drug Discovery
Modeling Plasma-Surface Interactions
Sensing Subduction Zones
Neural Networks & Earthquakes
Small Stars, Smaller Planets, Big Computing
Data Visualization using Climate Reanalyzer
Getting to Grips with Glassy Materials
Modeling Molecular Engines
Forest Mapping: When the Budworms come to Dinner
Exploring Thermoelectric Behavior at the Nanoscale
The Trickiness of Talking to Computers
A Genomic Take on Geobiology
From Grass to Gas
Teaching Computers to Identify Odors
From Games to Brains
The Trouble with Turbulence
A New Twist
A Little Bit of This… A Little Bit of That..
Looking Like an Alien!
Locking Up Computing
Modeling Supernovae
Sound Solution
Lessons in a Virtual Test Tube​
Crack Computing
Automated Real-time Medical Imaging Analysis
Towards a Smarter Greener Grid
Heading Off Head Blight
Organic Light-Harvesting Antennae
Art and AI
Excited by Photons
Tapping into an Ocean of Data
Computing Global Change
Star Power
Engineering the Human Microbiome
Computing Social Capital
Computers Diagnosing Disease
All Research Projects

Collaborative projects

ALL Collaborative PROJECTS

Outreach & Education Projects

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100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA 01040