Fellows have transformative experiences throughout summer with NCAR, NEON, and OOI

Author: Christina Clark

CI Compass Fellows Edward Lin, Mahee Shah, and Raja Ali stand in Boulder, Colorado, on a path in front of mountains in the background.
CI Compass Student Fellows Edward Lin, Mahee Shah, and Raja Allmdar Tariq Ali stand together in Boulder, Colorado, where they spent Summer 2023 working with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

This year, seven students from the CI Compass Fellowship Program (CICF) spent the summer learning alongside researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) in Boulder, Colorado, and the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), in Woods Hole, Massachusetts as part their CICF summer program experience.

This year’s summer fellows included:

  • Raja Allmdar Tariq Ali, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, CICF 2023, worked with NCAR
  • Edward Lin, University of Southern California, CICF 2022, worked with NCAR
  • Eddie Mayor, University of Notre Dame, CICF 2023, worked with NCAR and NEON
  • Gareth Oram, Louisiana State University, CICF 2023, worked with OOI
  • Bhagya Ram, University of California San Diego, CICF 2023, worked with NCAR
  • Mahee Shah, University of Iowa, CICF 2023, worked with NCAR
  • Calloway Sutton, Indiana University, CICF 2023, worked with OOI

Prior to their summer programs, the students participated in the CICF Spring Program.

Transformative Summer Experiences

Fellows who participated in summer programs came away with new perspectives, knowledge, and appreciation for the research and cyberinfrastructure fields.

“This summer at NCAR has been nothing but transformative for me,” said Ali. “I have been involved in enhancing the Ionosphere Dynamo Model, a sizable Fortran codebase set to be incorporated into WACCM-X, an advanced Earth atmosphere model. It's been an eye-opening journey learning the ins and outs of working in a research setting at a place as significant as NCAR.”

For Shah, the dedication of the teams at NCAR made an impression.

Raja Ali stands with his poster at NCAR.
Raja Ali, CICF 2023, and Brian Dobbins, Sr. Software Engineer at NCAR, stand in front of Ali's final poster.

“I talked to numerous people during my month in Colorado - from scientists, researchers, software developers, to the marketing team and statisticians. One thing stayed true among everyone I talked to: their passion and love for their work and NCAR,” said Shah, CICF 2023. “As a freshman in college I often worry if I chose the right major, if I will be happy in my future job and enjoy my work, so seeing this was really reinforcing for my journey as a student and inspiring. I am so fortunate to have had such an amazing summer experience with truly wonderful people.”

While Ali and Shah spent time at NCAR in-person, Mayor worked remotely with the facility.

“I have been observing and participating in the NCAR and NEON projects, which connect powerful models with NEON's measurement network, bringing together ecology and earth science,” said Mayor. “The goal is to predict how Earth's systems will impact ecosystems. I have learned how NCAR gathers NEON data sets, processes them for model input, and uses data analysis and visualization techniques so that various audiences can understand their research.”

Read more about CI Compass’ engagement with NCAR and NEON to connect their databases.

For Sutton, the remote OOI program was an opportunity to work with the institute’s document management systems, including testing them and working on a search engine for its video library and datasets.

“Working on the document management systems, I learned a lot about different databases like Cassandra, MongoDB, and Postgres and how to get telemetry data from them in order to do benchmarks,” said Sutton. “I also got to explore the various popular document management systems (DMS) on the market right now such as Alfresco and Mayan EDMS.”

Sutton’s work on the search engine project was originally geared toward finding specific “problem videos and frames” in their dataset, using machine learning techniques so they could be labeled for researchers to easily find and use. However, Sutton proposed a more generalized approach.

Gareth Oram Riw 2023 3
Gareth Oram, CICF 2023, stands in front of his poster about his internship at the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) at the 2023 National Science Foundation Research Infrastructure Workshop.

“It seemed the videos were not being used because of the fact that it was just hard to find useful data in them. Through this, I got a ton of experience in using many different Python libraries like NumPy, PyTorch, Pandas, TensorFlow, and SciKit as well as experience in scaling software to use multiple systems, computer vision, and data structure optimization,” he said. “I’m still continuing on with this project for fun afterwards because it is pretty cool and I’m learning other new things like the Dask Python framework to scale it even further.”

In addition to facilitating and funding internships, CI Compass also funds CICF students to attend one professional conference of their choice. Nardine S. Ibrahim, Indiana University, CICF 2023, chose to attend the 2023 NSF Research Infrastructure Workshop in Washington D.C., along with Oram. Oram presented a poster during the workshop of his work with CICF and OOI.

Training the Next Generation of Cyberinfrastructure Practitioners

Through immersive summer program experiences at Major Facilities CI Compass Fellows are able to continue learning and obtaining experience in cyberinfrastructure applications and development.

Raja Ali stands with student interns at NCAR during Summer 2023.
Raja Ali stands with interns at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado.

To prepare the fellows for their internships, the students attend the virtual CICF Spring program. Fellows receive technical training and research training. During the technical training sessions, fellows hear from experts on software engineering, cloud computing, data workflows, as well as applications of coding languages in research cyberinfrastructure settings. Students also perform research on NSF Major and Mid-scale facilities and their cyberinfrastructure, using the knowledge they gained throughout the semester.

In addition to CI Compass lecturers, the program includes guest speakers. These speakers include NSF Major Facilities cyberinfrastructure practitioners, such as: Shawna Sadler, head of outreach and partnerships at ORCID; Dan Stanzione, associate vice president for research and executive director at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC); Brian Dobbins, software engineer at NCAR; Paul Ruth from FABRIC and Chameleon Cloud from the Renaissance Computing Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; David S. Butcher, Research Faculty at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (Maglab); as well as CI experts within the CI Compass center.

Students interested in participating in CICF, and NSF MF CI practitioners who would like to continue to foster the next generation of CI professionals, are encouraged to reach out to CI Compass with any questions. Questions about CICF can be sent to: cicf@ci-compass.org.

"Through opportunities like these summer programs, students are able to take what they have learned in their courses and through the CICF Spring program, and see how it directly impacts scientific research," said Angela Murillo, Director of CICF. "These learning experiences will help grow the next generation of cyberinfrastructure practitioners."

Find information about the upcoming 2024 CI Compass Fellowship program here: https://ci-compass.org/student-fellowships/

About CI Compass

CI Compass is funded by the NSF Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure in the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering under grant number 2127548. Its participating research institutions include the University of Southern California, Indiana University, Texas Tech University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Utah.

To learn more about CI Compass, please visit ci-compass.org.

Contact: Christina Clark, Research Communications Specialist
CI Compass / Notre Dame Research / University of Notre Dame cclark26@nd.edu / 574.631.2665
ci-compass.org / @cicompass