Kramer Becomes Research Professor, Brings Closer Ties to NCSA

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Bill Kramer

Bill Kramer

This week CS @ Illinois announced that William Kramer will take on additional duties as a research professor this year. Since 2008, he has been with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) on the University of Illinois campus, where he is the director and principal investigator of the Blue Waters petascale supercomputer project.

Prior to joining the University of Illinois, Kramer was the general manager of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Before that he worked at the NASA Ames Research Center, where he was responsible for all aspects of operations and customer service for NASA’s Numerical Aerodynamic Simulator (NAS) supercomputer center and other large computational projects as well as starting a major Air Traffic Control Program.

I have been working in high performance computing and systems for some time,” Kramer said. “I like to think that what I do is figure out how to make very large, complex systems work really well.”

And at Blue Waters, Kramer has had ample opportunity to do just that at one of the largest, most complex computing systems in the world. He has been involved with the project since the early design stages of the machine and systems. Facilitating the movement, storage, and manipulation of vast amounts of data, and ensuring that these go on smoothly, is essential. “My job is to keep all those piece moving forward,” he said.

While Kramer’s positions over the years have often involved research, they did not always have that as an explicit aspect of the position. As a research professor he will continue ongoing work in the areas of resiliency of large scale systems, resource management of large resources, and performance evaluation of large scale systems. Now as a research professor in CS @ ILLINOIS, he will be able to branch out into other areas of interest beyond the scope of the Blue Waters project, such as cyber security, networking, and data management.

Kramer is also looking forward to being able to work more with students. “One of the strongest things [about being a research professor in CS] is that it will allow me to mentor students more,” he said. “The ability to have a longer-term relationship with students will be exciting. I get a lot of energy back from them. Being at an institution like Illinois, with the outstanding students we have, is wonderful.”

Overall, said Kramer, being a research professor “allows for strengthening organizational ties between NCSA and CS. I hope I would be able to provide facilitation to make more collaborative connections than might occur otherwise. That would be good for both.”

Kramer received his PhD in Computer Science from UC Berkeley. Along the way, he received two Group Achievement Awards and a Special Achievement Award from NASA. He was named one of HPCWire’s “People to Watch” in 2005 and in 2013. In 2010, he was the first person selected as insideHPC’s “Rockstars of HPC.” He is the founder of several organizations, including the ACM/IEEE George Michael Memorial HPC Fellowship, the Blue Water Fellowship Program, the Open Science Grid Executive Committee, and the DECUS Seminar Program.