Advice from Colleagues with Experience

Series: Strategies for Working Remotely

Working remotely has suddenly become a near-universal experience for staff members of research organizations, but for some it has been a way of life for years. In this panel discussion, we brought together five staff members of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories, all members of the DOE Exascale Computing Project (ECP), with years of varied experience working remotely. Topics included advice to people just getting started with working remotely, challenges, unforeseen benefits, and opportunities to look for from this experience, with emphasis on issues faced by collaborating teams in computational research. Panelists made brief introductory comments followed by open discussion.



Panelist Bios

Mike Bernhardt started the Bernhardt Agency in 1994, focused on helping companies in the HPC market segment. After less than a year of running the agency from an office in downtown Portland, and dealing with the frustration of parking, commuter traffic, and the rising cost of office space, he decided to take the company virtual. He ran this agency, and two subsequent agencies as virtual organizations for 19 years, eventually employing more than 25 full-time employees working from their homes offering communications services to companies throughout the HPC ecosystem in North America. In 2001, 2002, and 2003, his [virtual] agency was named the top marketing agency to work for by Oregon Business magazine, and in 2003 it took top honors as the #1 small business to work for in Oregon. Mike currently leads communications and outreach for ECP.

Lois Curfman McInnes is a senior computational scientist in the Mathematics and Computer Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory. After working primarily onsite at Argonne during 1993-2000, she has been working remotely for 20 years, currently in Rockville, Maryland and previously in Austin, Texas. Lois is presently the deputy director of software technology for ECP.

Mark Miller, a software developer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory supporting HPC visualization tools, has worked remotely, part-time, for 10+ years from Davis, CA. His home office setting involves only his wife (no children or pets), a separate room for an office, an LLNL provided laptop and peripherals and Comcast/Xfinity’s lowest tier internet service plus Verizon hot-spot with 8Gb/mo data limit. Mark is a member of the IDEAS-ECP productivity project.

Kathryn Mohror is a computer scientist and group leader in the Center for Applied Scientific Computing Division of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. She has been working remotely from Portland, Oregon for 10 years in her current position and about 10 years before that while in school. Kathryn is presently co-PI of the ECP project ExaIO.

Elaine Raybourn is a social scientist who has worked remotely for a combined total of 14 years while at Sandia National Laboratories: from the UK as a guest researcher at British Telecom; Germany and France as a Fellow of the European Research Consortium in Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM), and most recently from Orlando, Florida as a member of Sandia’s Statistics and Human Systems Group and the IDEAS-ECP productivity project.

Moderator Bio

Mike Heroux has worked remotely for nearly 23 years from rural central Minnesota, briefly as Director of Applications at SGI/Cray, then as a staff member in the Center for Computing Research at Sandia National Laboratories. Mike is presently the director of software technology for ECP and a Scientist in Residence at St. John’s University, MN.