Nikhil Jain Awarded Sidney Fernbach Postdoctoral Fellowship

Monday, April 25, 2016

Nikhil Jain has been named LLNL’s second Sidney Fernbach Postdoctoral Fellow, a highly competitive postdoctoral position awarded to candidates with exceptional talent in computational mathematics, scientific computing, and/or computer science.

Nikhil comes from the Computer Science Department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to conduct his two-year appointment with Lawrence Livermore. He previously worked at the Lab as a summer student in 2012 and 2014. The focus of Nikhil’s research is parallel computing, with the goal of increasing parallel programs’ speed and applying parallel computing to new domains. His doctoral research has especially focused on communication in parallel computing, where he has worked extensively on scaling production of high-performance computing applications such as OpenAtom and Nanoscale Molecular Dynamics to extreme scale in Charm++.  “Communication research is important because computer science applications are executed on thousands of cores,” Nikhil says. He explains that the cores need to run efficiently to substantiate the use of so many cores at once, thus making communication a fundamental issue in parallel computing.

At the Lab, Nikhil will be working with mentor Todd Gamblin and his team on machine learning for performance modeling and Peter Barnes and David Jefferson on simulating parallel discrete events. He also hopes to work with fellow LLNL computer scientist Abhinav Bhatele, who first told Nikhil about the fellowship, on communication and application. Nikhil, who joined the Lab in late April, says he looks forward to working with other scientists on parallel algorithms.

Nikhil’s interest in computer programming began at a young age. “Programming came naturally to me when I took a computer class at 14,” he says, and he has remained in the field ever since. “I feel thankful for those who have helped me, and for the Lab for giving me the opportunity to explore novel ideas with full freedom.”