Calit2 Director Among Five New AAAS Fellows from UC San Diego

Larry Smarr honored for leadership in scientific computing, high-performance computing and cyberinfrastructure

Calit2 Director Larry Smarr in front of the Qualcomm Institute's
Vroom visualization display wall

San Diego, November 21, 2016 — Calit2 Director Larry Smarr is one of five professors from the University of California San Diego awarded the distinction of fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Smarr is among 391 members worldwide elevated in 2016 to be fellows for “their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.”

The new fellows will be honored on February 18, 2017, at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.

In addition to Smarr, who is also the Harry E. Gruber professor of computer science and engineering in UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering, the other four new AAAS fellows from UC San Diego include economist Richard Carson, hydrologist Konstantine Georgakakos, bioengineer David Gough, and oceanographer Lynne Talley.

In naming Smarr a fellow, AAAS cited his track record of “leadership in scientific computing, high-performance computing, and cyberinfrastructure.” He is widely recognized for having driven major developments in information infrastructure, including the Internet, Web, scientific visualization, virtual reality, and global telepresence. Since the creation of Calit2 in 2000, Smarr has led a series of major projects funded by the National Science Foundation, including the influential $13.5 million OptIPuter project, and he also led the Moore Foundation-funded, $24.5 million CAMERA project that developed an infrastructure for marine microbial ecology research and analysis.

Calit2's Smarr

Prior to joining the UC San Diego faculty, Smarr spent 20 years as a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was also the founding director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Before that, he was lead author on the first proposal asking NSF to invest in U.S. supercomputing centers to serve university researchers. The supercomputing proposal grew out of Smarr’s wide-ranging research, which required massive-scale computer processing to study the dynamics of radio jets, accretion disks orbiting black holes, supernovae, neutron star collisions, and gravitational waves, including modeling the head-on collision of two black holes (the subject of his doctoral dissertation). Smarr earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975.

A fellow of the American Physical Society since 1991 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1994, Smarr was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1995. In 2006 the IEEE Computer Society gave him its Tsutomo Kanai Award for lifetime achievements in distributed computing systems. That same year, Smarr also received the ESRI Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2014 Smarr was honored with the congressionally-supported Golden Goose Award for how his work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on calculating black hole collisions led him to champion a federal commitment to dramatically enhance U.S. computing power—which in turn led to the development of NCSA Mosaic, the precursor to today's ubiquitous web browsers.

David Gough

Another UC San Diego professor honored as an AAAS fellow in 2016 who has an affiliation with Calit2 and its UCSD division, the Qualcomm Institute, is David Gough, a professor of bioengineering in the Jacobs School. He was recognized by AAAS for his “pioneering development of implantable biosensors, particularly for use in both short-term and long-term monitoring of blood glucose in humans.” Gough is developing and implementing a long-term implantable glucose sensor for people with diabetes that may aid in improved regulation of the disease. One version of the sensor, developed by Gough and the startup he co-founded, GlySens, is currently in human trials and may soon be available in the clinic. Gough’s work includes physiologic studies of implanted sensors; mass transfer of small molecules in tissues; blood glucose dynamics; development of biomaterials; and more. He is currently vice-chair of the Department of Bioengineering, and an academic participant in Calit2. He also teaches in the freshman introductory bioengineering course, senior design, and in the Medical Devices Engineering Masters of Advanced Study Program.

Joining Smarr and Gough as new AAAS fellows from UC San Diego are: Richard Carson, a professor of economics in the Division of Social Sciences; Scripps Institution of Oceanography research hydrologist and adjunct professor Konstantine Georgakakos; and Lynne Talley, a distinguished professor of oceanography at Scripps.

Richard Carson
  • Richard Carson: The economist was recognized for “distinguished contributions to the economic theory, method and application of environmental impact evaluation and resource economics, including pollution, water quality and climate change.” Carson has developed widely used methods for assessing the benefits and costs of environmental policies and the economic impacts of environmental disasters. His projects have ranged from analyzing the benefits of the U.S. Clean Water Act and examining the impacts of fisheries management to studying visibility improvements in the Grand Canyon and preventing residential water shortages in California cities. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, he served as a principal investigator on economic damage assessments for the State of Alaska and more recently for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. His work on forecasting Chinese carbon dioxide emissions received international attention, and recent studies in developing countries look at labor market impacts of arsenic exposure in Bangladesh and protecting tropical forests in Malaysia.
  • Konstantine Georgakakos
    Konstantine Georgakakos: The research hydrologist was cited for “seminal contributions to the development of hydrometeorological models and flood forecasting systems and their application for the benefit of society.” He founded the Hydrologic Research Center (HRC) in San Diego a year before joining Scripps in 1994. HRC is a science cooperation and technology transfer center, whose main emphasis is the application of advanced methods of science and engineering toward the improvement of disaster and water resources management worldwide. Georgakakos remains HRC’s managing director and he is one of the chief editors of the Journal of Hydrology.
  • Lynne Talley
    Lynne Talley: AAAS cited the oceanographer’s work in “measuring the intermediate and deep water masses of the world ocean, leading to our understanding of ocean circulation and the climate.” Talley’s research focuses on the general circulation of the ocean and the role of various oceanic and atmospheric conditions that affect ocean currents and property distributions, including salinity. Her work involves analysis of data from most of the world’s oceans, depicting the movement of heat, salinity, and water masses, and the formation of water masses, particularly in subpolar regions. Her research combines analysis of ocean observations with advanced theoretical work to describe and map large-scale circulation. She was a lead author of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (Working Group I chapter “Observations: Oceanic Climate Change and Sea Level,”), which earned contributing scientists a share of the Nobel Peace Prize, and a lead author on the same topic for the Fifth Assessment Report.

Continuing a tradition started in 1874, AAAS members are considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by a steering group of their respective sections, by three existing fellows or by AAAS’s chief executive officer.

Media Contacts

Doug Ramsey, 858-822-5825, with Mario Aguilera, Inga Kiderra, and Daniel Kane

Related Links

Larry Smarr's Website
Qualcomm Institute