Argonne Names 5 New Distinguished Fellows

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Clockwise from top center: Pete Beckman, Jeffrey Elam, Stephen Gray, Lois Curfman McInnes, and Rick Stevens (credit: Argonne National Laboratory)

Argonne National Laboratory has named for 2021 five new Argonne Distinguished Fellows, the lab’s highest title: Pete Beckman, Lois Curfman McInnes and Rick Stevens from the Computing, Environment and Life Sciences (CELS) directorate; Jeffrey Elam from the Energy and Global Security (EGS) directorate; and Stephen Gray from the Physical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) directorate.

Of the 1,400-plus researchers and scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy lab, Argonne said it recognized the five “for vision, international leadership and exceptional achievement in science and engineering.”

Here are profiles of the new fellows:

Pete Beckman, CELS
Beckman has been an internationally recognized name in computing circles since 2011, when he published a visionary international roadmap for exascale software in the International Journal of High Performance Computing (HPC) Applications. He was an early advocate for supercomputing with Linux and has been a leader in the HPC operating system community since his first Extreme Linux workshops. That work led to Beckman becoming the technical leader for a collaboration between the DOE and Japanese Ministry for Technology on HPC system software. His vision and creativity, combined with superb leadership skills, led to past successes as director of engineering and later chief architect of the TeraGrid project, a National Science Foundation-funded effort to build a $100M national grid infrastructure, as well as director of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility to oversee the deployment, acceptance and transition to operations of the IBM Blue Gene/P system. Currently, Beckman is co-director of the Northwestern Argonne Institute of Science & Engineering.

Rick Stevens, CELS
Stevens, the CELS associate laboratory director, is widely recognized for his outstanding, far-reaching and sustained impact on the future course of the laboratory and on the scientific computing community. For 35 years, he has developed innovative tools and techniques used widely in high performance computer systems, advanced collaboration environments and computational problems in the computational sciences. He has led national initiatives that are successfully using these technologies to tackle challenging science and engineering problems. Stevens has also made outstanding technical contributions to the design, development and deployment of high performance computing architectures — from terascale computing to petaflops systems software and architectures. His fundamental contributions extend to application of high performance computing to the biological sciences. Stevens is a Fellow of the Association of Computer Machinery and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Stephen Gray, PSE
Gray, a senior scientist, is well known for his work on applying quantum theory to better understand chemical reactions and for his computational work on interactions of light with nanoscale materials. He began at Argonne as a chemist in 1990, and today continues to make contributions to Argonne’s growing quantum information science efforts. In 2009, he began working in the Center for Nanoscale Materials, where he served as group leader of the Theory and Modeling Group for 10 years. His scientific measurables include 266 peer-reviewed publications, over 130 invited talks, over 1,000 citations per year and 49 papers cited more than 100 times. Gray is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Lois Curfman McInnes, CELS
McInnes’s early work on nonlinear solvers and her novel contributions to the multi-award-winning Portable, Extensible Toolkit for Scientific computing (PETSc) helped make PETSc one of the most successful long-term software projects ever supported by DOE. Today, as a computational science leader, she focuses on high performance computational science with emphasis on scalable numerical libraries and community collaboration toward productive and sustainable software ecosystems. Deputy Director of Software Technology for DOE’s Exascale Computing Project, McInnes co-leads the IDEAS scientific software productivity project, which focuses on improving software productivity and sustainability as a key aspect of advancing scientific productivity. In 2011, she shared honors with another Argonne Distinguished Fellow, Barry Smith, when they jointly won the DOE Ernest Orlando Lawrence award for their work on PETSc. In 2017, her co-authored paper describing PETSc methodology was included in the DOE Office of Science’s 40th anniversary collection of the top 40 papers that ​“changed the face of science.”

Jeffrey Elam, EGS
Elam came to the attention of the public as co-inventor of the ​“Oleo Sponge,” an engineered foam that absorbs oil from water. It won top invention and the Editor’s Choice Award in 2017 from the R&D100 Awards. However, those in the field of materials science and innovative coatings were already well acquainted with Elam’s contributions. The Oleo Sponge was Elam’s fifth R&D 100 Award and he is a prolific Argonne inventor with more than 70 patents and applications, including patents licensed by industry that have led to several commercial products. A senior chemist and group leader in functional coatings, Elam is one of the world’s foremost leaders in atomic-layer deposition. He is credited with distinguished and sustained contributions to the science and technology of thin film coatings to solve critical materials challenges. Among these is the world’s largest microchannel plate, a solid-state, two-dimensional electron amplifier critical to a variety of imaging and sensing applications. Elam is a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society.

Argonne said the distinguished fellow distinction is similar to a tenured professorship at an academic institution; only 3 percent of research staff at Argonne have earned this rank.

“This year’s distinguished fellows are empowering Argonne’s scientific mission for the benefit of our country,” said Argonne Director Paul Kearns.  ​“Pete, Jeffrey, Stephen, Lois and Rick are all recognized around the world for their scientific and technical leadership, their exceptional achievements, and their impactful contributions to research and development. Their work has been integral to Argonne’s position at the forefront of discovery.”