June 23, 2022 – When Mark Day arrived at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) five years ago, “I found my tribe,” he said. This month, the self-proclaimed “recovering scientist” is retiring from a more than 30-year career with the University of California (UC) system, including his years at NERSC.
Day’s career at UC began in 1982 as a Ph.D. pharmaceutical chemistry student. As part of his research, Day applied nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to resolve peptide structures. This led to subsequent work in the Department of Radiology at UC San Francisco (UCSF) where he applied magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in novel ways, coaxing data from digital images created to clinical use. “I loved science, but I really fell in love with computer science,” Day said. “Also, I was really good at creating the tools needed for computer analysis, so I got into this job.”
During his years at UCSF, Day moved into administration, a role in which he “found little joy.” So when he accepted a position with NERSC’s Infrastructure Services Group (ISG), he felt he would come home. “In fact, many of us are recovering scientists at NERSC,” Day said. “I guess it’s kind of the same attraction for all of us: we always love being involved in science and the challenge of helping others do their jobs using the computing tools at our disposal.”
It was also important for Day to be involved in a mission-driven organization like NERSC: “Even though I wasn’t directly the one saving lives at UCSF, I knew I was part of a who did,” Day said. “It’s the same at NERSC: even though I’m not directly advancing scientific knowledge, I’m part of an organization that helps make that happen, and that’s always been important to me.”
During his tenure at NERSC, Day is proud to have been part of the team that implemented Spin, a “container” system that allows scientists to easily stand together and share technology tools, such as websites, databases and data analysis tools. “I think NERSC is kind of famous for taking the friction out of science, and Spin is a great example of that.”
He also cited the recently deployed Federated Identity Project, which allows scientists to access NERSC systems and resources through their home institution logins. “I always felt like we were part of a pretty strong team at NERSC, so all the things I’d like to cite are really team accomplishments,” he said.
“We are extremely fortunate to work with colleagues of Mark’s caliber,” said ISG Group Manager Cory Snavely, who hired Day in 2017. “He’s not only a brilliant technologist, but he’s also articulate, generous and has a fantastic sense of humor. Mark has been central to all of the band’s projects, and especially with our Federated Identity initiative, but he also made the job fun,” Snavely said.
Day said he will miss the people he works with and the intellectual challenges of supporting science. “Whether it was figuring out how to apply a new technology or attending a seminar to learn some of the science behind detecting dark matter, I was constantly challenged at NERSC. I think it’s going to be hard to replicate in retirement.
Still, he looks forward to “doing all those things you think you’re going to do but never seem to have time for”, including traveling with his wife Amy, biking, hiking and finishing household projects. long neglected.
About NERSC and the Berkeley Laboratory
The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is a user facility of the United States Department of Energy’s Office of Science that serves as the primary high-performance computing center for Office of Science-sponsored scientific research. Located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the NERSC Center serves more than 7,000 national laboratory and university scientists who study a wide range of problems in combustion, climate modeling, fusion energy, materials science, physics , chemistry, computational biology and other disciplines. Berkeley Laboratory is a DOE National Laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the US Department of Energy. Learn more about IT at the Berkeley laboratory.
Source: Margie Wylie, NERSC