UC San Diego: Frank Würthwein Named Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) has a new director. Frank Würthwein, lead of SDSC’s Distributed High-Throughput Computing Group, executive director of the Open Science Grid (OSG), a physics professor and a founding faculty member of the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego assumes the role Dec. 1.

“We are confident that Professor Würthwein will guide the SDSC, one of the original National Science Foundation supercomputer centers, boldly into the future bolstered by his experience and commitment to global collaboration and innovation. Chancellor Khosla joins us in looking forward to working with Professor Würthwein in his new role,” said Executive Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Simmons and Robert Continetti, senior associate vice chancellor, academic affairs, in the campus statement announcing Würthwein’s appointment.

Würthwein has been serving as interim director of SDSC since July 2021 when long-time director Michael Norman, also a professor of physics, resumed his role as a full-time faculty member. Würthwein also has served as a member of the SDSC Executive Team since 2015.

“It’s an honor and my great pleasure to be taking on this responsibility, especially now, when SDSC is at the forefront of so many exciting new technologies to accelerate science, and translate innovation into practice,” said Würthwein.

As SDSC director, Würthwein will be responsible for the strategic direction and operational management of the center, leading its more than 260 employees and volunteers, and managing the center’s more than $50 million annual budget. He will guide the center in creating high-performance, innovative computing infrastructure, applications and services to support the ever-growing variety of research within and beyond the STEM fields at UC San Diego, across SDSC’s national collaborations and within the global community.

Importantly, Würthwein will work to expand the center’s involvement in emerging and future domains of supercomputing. With a focus on identifying areas of investment for internal and outside partners, he will foster relationships with agencies, elected officials, organizations and others to forge collaborative and financial support pathways for the future.

Würthwein’s academic work centers around international collaborations involving the Compact Muon Solenoid at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN – work that has involved thousands of physicists and engineers from more than 200 institutions in more than 40 countries. Würthwein will continue to serve as executive director of the OSG, the premiere national cyberinfrastructure for distributed high-throughput computing that provides high-throughput computational services for scientific institutions doing work in high-energy physics, structural biology and other domains.

Würthwein received his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1995. After holding appointments at MIT and Caltech, where he was a Millikan Fellow, he joined the UC San Diego faculty in 2003. His research interests in particle physics include the search for dark matter, supersymmetry and electroweak symmetry breaking. As an experimentalist, Würthwein is also interested in instrumentation and data analysis.

Over the last few years, the new SDSC director has been developing, deploying and operating worldwide distributed computing systems supporting high-throughput computing with large data volumes, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and open cyberinfrastructure to democratize access to computing for an open society. Examples of Würthwein’s impact include his work with the OSG, which focuses on high-throughput computing, and the Pacific Research Platform (PRP) and National Research Platform (NRP), which focus on AI and ML. Together, the OSG, PRP, and NRP programs prioritize the democratization of access.

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