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New Role at QMUL: Research Community Lead

Hello world, my name is Julita Inca and I am originally from Lima, Peru. I am currently based in London, UK. My professional focus is High Performance Computing (HPC) and Linux.

My latest academic qualification is a Masters degree in High Performance Computing from the University of Edinburgh in 2019. It's the only MSc program in the country that specialises in HPC.

After that, I was hired by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in 2020 to test preconditioners on basic physics problems such as temperature, displacement and fluids as part of the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) project. Preconditioners are used in iterative methods to accelerate the solution of large sparse linear system equations. The application of a specific and appropriate preconditioner depends on several factors such as the nature of a matrix raised from a Partial Differential Equation (PDE), structuring, element types used in a mesh, symmetry, and so on. To measure the performance of different preconditioners, I tested the ones already available in the software framework, Multiphysics Object-Oriented Simulation Environment (MOOSE), using the Cambridge Service for Data Driven Discovery (CSD3) cluster which is one of the EPSRC Tier2 National HPC Services in the UK to serve in the Nuclear Fusion area. MOOSE was already written to enable massively parallel multiphysics simulations, so my research was speeding up the simulation using the right amount of High Performance Computing resources such as cores and memory, and the Message Passing Interface (MPI) for different sizes of meshes. My results were successfully run by using different options for preconditioners, mapping strategically the cores on different nodes and utilising a large amount of memory.

Prior to this, I had the good fortune to interact with one of the top supercomputers in the world, Summit, when I was working for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the USA in 2018. I was contacted by STEM Internships and Fellowships at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). There I helped with user support for Linux and High Performance Computing. Mostly, I wrote documentation using GitBook to support HPC users. I had the chance to interact with scientists that run cutting edge projects of huge impact in the world. At that point, I decided that my future will be a computer scientist using High Performance Computing resources.

Back in Peru, while I was doing my Masters in Computer Science at Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (PUCP). I had my first experience on Linux (Ubuntu and GNOME), I was struggling with it at first but then I found out about the concept of Linux communities and how they help people to get started in the Linux world free of charge. At a Linux conference back in 2010, one of the talks presented the GNOME project and a programme to involve more women in their community. I applied and was selected as one of the winners of the GNOME Outreach Program 2011. This meant belonging to one of the incredible Linux communities, which allowed me to be part of worldwide hackathons and conferences, and increase my professional network.

My career turned out to be a Linux administrator mostly in Red Hat, so I became a Fedora Ambassador. I became involved in IT and Linux conferences as a speaker and organiser. I also lectured at three universities in Lima and was an online IT trainer in Latin America. Additionally, I was a leader of a Linux community called LinuxAtUNI where I mentored students from 12 universities in Lima as a volunteer.

In total, I have more than 15 years of IT experience, including in companies such as IBM Peru, GMD and Rimac Seguros. Also, for more than 10 years I have been promoting Linux, and more than 7 years teaching computer science to students at universities.

If you ask me what I remember the most about Linux training/speaking events, of the many, I would name three of the warmest memories I have: One in the jungle in Peru in 2016 as all of the students were able to install Fedora and run basic Linux commands. Another in Indonesia in 2015, where not all the attendees spoke English and I did not speak Indonesian either. I also vividly recall Linux Playa 2017, where students in Lima who fixed bugs for Fedora and GNOME were treated to an outing on the beach and they presented their projects there.

Now, in 2023, I am looking forward to working for the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). My role includes enabling research here to benefit from High Performance Computing, be it with people who are not familiar with Linux at all or those who know their way around it. I will also be offering Linux training and support, including tailored videos on Linux and High Performance Computing on Apocrita and related HPC resources at QMUL. My aim is to build a community of users who share their insights and experience.

So, whatever your area of research, we can apply the magic combination of Linux & High Performance Computing to your project.

You are very welcome to contact us, by email or by Slack in the #HPC channel.