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MMAE Seminar - Lorena A. Barba - Flying Snakes to the Cloud in Pursuit of Reproducible Computational Research

Event Date 

March 29, 2019 - 12:45pm to 1:45pm

Location 

John T. Rettaliata Engineering Center
Room 104
10 West 32nd Street
Chicago, IL 60616

Description 

Armour College of Engineering’s Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering Department will welcome Dr. Lorena A. Barba, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the George Washington University in Washington, DC., on Friday, March 29th, to present her lecture, Flying Snakes to the Cloud in Pursuit of Reproducible Computational Research.

Abstract

We are a computational research group, focusing on fluid simulations and biophysics. We do our best to accomplish reproducible research and have for years worked to improve our practices to achieve this goal. Some years ago, we published a study of the aerodynamics of flying snakes using computational fluid dynamics. We used an anatomically correct cross-section to compute the flow physics, and obtain lift characteristics at various angles of attack. The results matched previous experiments in finding an enhanced lift at a pre-stall angle of attack, and we happily published the paper, the simulation code, and some secondary data and visualizations. On a subsequent full replication study using four different simulation codes, we catalogued the various ways that things can go wrong, and exposed the brutal reality of reproducibility and replicability in computational fluid dynamics. The goal of complete documentation and transparency of scientific computations, so that other researchers can reproduce the results, is complicated by subtle issues with meshing, boundary conditions, external libraries for solving linear systems, and the general shortfall of open-science practices. We have now developed a fully reproducible workflow to run computational studies on a public cloud, adopting several new tools that facilitate it. By sharing the details of this new workflow, we hope to pave new roads to conducting and publishing reproducible computational research.

Biography

Lorena A. Barba is an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. She holds a PhD in aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology and BSc/PEng degrees in mechanical engineering from Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Chile. Her research includes computational fluid dynamics, high-performance computing, computational biophysics, and animal flight.

An international leader in computational science and engineering, she is also a long-standing advocate of open source software for science and education, and she is well known for her courses and open educational resources. She was a recipient of the 2016 Leamer-Rosenthal Award for Open Social Sciences, and in 2017, was nominated and received an honorable mention in the Open Education Awards for Excellence of the Open Education Consortium.

Prof. Barba received the NSF Faculty Early CAREER award (2012), was named CUDA Fellow by NVIDIA Corp. (2012), is an awardee of the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) First Grant program (2007), is an Amelia Earhart Fellow of the Zonta Foundation (1999) and a leader in computational science and engineering internationally. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the NumFOCUS non-profit, and a member of the editorial board for IEEE/AIP Computing in Science and Engineering, The Journal of Open Source Software, and The ReScience Journal.

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