Keynote Speakers

How Economics Shapes Science

Paula Stephan
Georgia State University

July 11 Keynote

Economics is about incentives and costs.  It is also about whether as a society we are using resources efficiently in the sense that we could reallocate and get more without getting less. The lecture will explore how incentives and costs affect the practice of science, especially at universities. Examples will be provided. The lecture will also argue that there are a number of inefficiencies in the system. Four which will receive special mention are first, “over training” in the sense that the U.S. in certain fields is producing more scientists than can find research positions, second, the increased tendency for funding agencies and scientists to be risk averse, third,  misaligned incentives when it comes to publishing, and fourth, incentives that encourage universities to “overbuild” in certain fields. 

Paula Stephan is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the Board of Reviewing Editors, Science. Science Careers named Stephan its first “Person of the Year” in December 2012. Stephan has published numerous articles in such journals as The American Economic Review, The Journal of Economic Literature, Management Science, Nature, Organization Science, Research Policy and Science. Her book, How Economics Shapes Science, was published by Harvard University Press. Her research has been supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. Stephan serves on the National Academies Committee on the Next Generation of Researchers Initiative and the Research Council of The State University of New York (SUNY) System. In the recent past she served on the National Research Council’s Board on Higher Education and Workforce and the Committee to Review the State of the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers. She served on the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council, National Institutes of Health 2005-2009 and also served on the Advisory Committee of the Social, Behavioral, and Economics Program, National Science Foundation, 2001-2008 (CEOSE, 2001-2003). She has held visiting positions at the Max Planck Institute, Munich, Germany; KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; Harvard University; International Center for Economic Research, Turin, Italy; and the Wizzenschaftszentrum für Social Forschung, Berlin, Germany. Stephan received her undergraduate degree in economics from Grinnell College and her PhD from the University of Michigan.

Mapping the Poles with Petascale

​Paul Morin
Polar Geospatial Center

July 12 Keynote

The compelling story of a small NSF-funded team from academia joining with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and Blue Waters to create the largest ever topographic mapping project. Surface topography is among the most fundamental data sets for geosciences, essential for disciplines ranging from glaciology to geodynamics. Two new projects are using sub-meter, commercial imagery licensed by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and open source photogrammetry software to produce a 2-m posting elevation model of the Arctic and an 8-m posting elevation model for the Antarctic. When complete, this publicly available data will be at higher resolution than the continuous data available for the Western United States. ArcticDEM is made possible through a three-tier strategy using open-source photogrammetry software, petascale computing, and sub-meter imagery licensed to the United States Government. 

Paul Morin is Founder and Director of the Polar Geospatial Center, an NSF science and logistics support center at the University of Minnesota. Morin leads a team of two dozen responsible for imaging, mapping, and monitoring the Earth’s polar regions for the NSF’s Division of Polar Programs. Morin is the liaison between the NSF and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s commercial imagery program. Before founding PGC, Morin was at the National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics at the University of Minnesota, where he has worked since 1987. Morin serves as the National Academy of Sciences-appointed U.S. representative to the Standing Committee on Antarctic Geographic Information under the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (i.e., the Antarctic Treaty System). One of his current projects is ArcticDEM, a White House initiative to produce a high-resolution, time-dependent elevation model of the Arctic using Blue Waters. Morin’s professional interests include mapping areas of the Earth that are difficult to reach, scientific visualization and using scientific art for formal and informal education. Morin has dozens of publications in a variety of fields including remote sensing, geoscience education, the carbon cycle, and scientific visualization. Morin’s art/visualizations have been in numerous publications including National Geographic, Nature and Wired. He has contributed to the BBC/David Attenborough production “Frozen Planet” and is spearheading an effort with Google to improve polar geospatial data, imagery and Street View in Google Earth and Maps. Morin is coauthor of the number one selling introductory geology textbook “Exploring Geology” and the newly released “Exploring Earth Science.” 

Invited Speakers

Reproducibility and Containers: The Perfect Sandwich

Vanessa Sochat, Stanford Research Computing Center

Gregory Kurtzer, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

11 a.m. Tuesday, July 11

Dear reader, how should you disseminate your software? If you want your recipe to come out just right, we encourage you to put it in a container. One such container, Singularity, is the first of its kind to be securely deployed internationally on more than 40 shared cluster resources. Its registry, Singularity Hub, further supports reproducible science by building and making containers accessible to any user of the software. In this talk, Vanessa will review the primary use cases for both Singularity and Singularity Hub, and how both have been designed to support modern, common workflows. (Greg will participate remotely.) She will discuss current and future challenges for building, capturing metadata for, and organizing the exploding landscape of containers, and present novel work for assessing reproducibility of such containers. Containers are changing scientific computing, and this is something to be excited about.

Networking for Research​

Stephen Wolff
Internet2 Principal Scientist

11 a.m. Wednesday, July 12

The Internet’s conceptual model is that of the classic phone system: connect two instruments (or interfaces) together with a wire. This is today an appropriate model still for some applications – e.g., connecting a remote user to the login host of an HPC system. But even this simple model admits of diversity for varied applications without analogs in classical telephony – quality of service in terms of guaranteed bandwidth and latency control, and elaborations such as the Science DMZ and DTNs. Yet in the computational sciences it is often the case that an investigator’s focus is on the dataset(s) to be analyzed, while the interfaces and the hosts on which they reside are of no interest. These ideas lead to the concept of “information-centric networking” and network architectures different from the Internet which are of growing interest both commercially and in the academy. Until quite recently, network designers were forced to choose a communications model and network architecture to implement. Today however, the availability of very fast commodity hardware, inexpensive storage, and abundant bandwidth allow multiple architectures to co-exist on the same network substrate, and for particular instances to be stood up and torn down under end-user control. This talk will elaborate on these ideas, and offer some examples.