Leadership and Key Personnel

Executive Director

Picture of William T.C. Kramer

Professor William T.C. Kramer

William T.C. Kramer was the Principle Investigator and Director of the Leadership-class Blue Waters Project, a project at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He holds an appointment as a full Research Professor of Computer Science at Illinois and is the Executive Director for Illinois’ New Frontiers Initiative.

The Blue Waters system, the largest supercomputer Cray has ever built, was the first general-purpose, open science, sustained-petaflop supercomputer placed into service in 2013, delivering over 35 billion core*hours of computing to date. Blue Waters was a project with an overall cost of over $520M to support thousands of researchers doing Frontier Science and Engineering research that was not possible any other way. While Blue Waters is now decommissioned, NFI has a follow on system Hydro focused on supporting research and development related to national security and preparedness as well as research in other domains. 

In addition to being the New Frontiers Director, Kramer is a Research Professor of Computer Science in the Computer Science department at UIUC and has been the PI of the NSF funded Global Initiative to Enhance @scale and distributed Computing and Analysis Technologies (GECAT) project, the DOE/ASCR funded Holistic Measurement Driven Resiliency HMDR award that studies failure and resiliency for exascale systems, several contracts with DOE laboratories and an OTA agreement with NGA/SOSSEC. 

Previously, he held leadership roles as General Manager of the National Energy Research Supercomputing Center (NERSC) and was a Branch Chief in NASA’s Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation division at Ames Research Center. 

He is the author of over 60 papers about high-end computing and data analysis and served on HPC advisory committees around the world. He is one of the founding executive directors of the Joint Laboratory for Extreme-Scale Computing (JLESC) which is a collaborative organization consisting of 7 organizations in 4 countries researching extreme-scale computing and data analysis. He was the General Chair of the International SC05 conference as well as many other high-level volunteer leadership positions. He is the recipient of multiple awards from NASA, the Department of Energy, the Association of Computing Machinery, and the Digital Computer Users Society, including one that recognized his contributions to returning the Space Shuttle to flight after the Challenger accident and another for establishing a $400M research program for improving the effectiveness of the US air traffic control systems. He has also led the creation and was responsible for NASA’s TS-SCI computing facility and holds current DOD clearances. 

Blue Waters was the 20th supercomputer Kramer deployed and/or managed. He also deployed and managed large clusters of systems, several extremely large data repositories, some of the world’s most intense networks, and also been involved with the design, creation, and commissioning of six “best of class” HPC facilities. He is known for developing the Sustained System Performance (SSP), Effective System Performance (ESP), and PERCU evaluation methods for large-scale systems. 

Bill holds a BS and MS in computer science from Purdue University, an ME in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware, a PhD in computer science at UC Berkeley. Kramer’s research interests include large-scale system performance evaluation, systems, and resource management and scheduling, system resiliency and fault detection, large-scale system monitoring and assessment, and cyber protection. Bill has certifications in very large IT project management from GSA and DOE. Bill advises and consults around the world on large-scale systems and facilities and their use.

Key NFI Personnel

Image of Brett Bode

Brett Bode
Assistant Director

Brett Bode is a Deputy Director and a co-Principle Investigator on the Blue Waters and Delta projects with over 25 years of experience designing, operating, and utilizing HPC systems. Previously at NCSA Brett was the leader of the Advanced Digital Services division and managed the system software development projects for the Blue Waters project. Prior to joining NCSA in 2008, Brett spent nearly ten years as a scientist with the Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University researching ways to deliver better performance to scientific applications from HPC cluster systems. Brett holds a BS in chemistry and physics from Illinois State University and a PhD in physical chemistry from Iowa State University.


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Gregory Bauer
Senior Technical Program Manager

Gregory Bauer is the Senior Technical Program Manager for the Blue Waters Science and Engineering Application Support Team. A co-PI on both the Blue Waters projects and the Delta projects, he has expertise in advanced application support and benchmarking of HPC systems. He has over 20 years of experience as an HPC user and consulting staff, where he has participated in several successful system procurement proposals. Gregory has a Ph.D. in Condensed Matter Physics. After completing a post-doctoral assignment at the UIUC where he simulated fundamental properties of superfluid helium, Gregory was the Technical Manager for the Materials Computation Center at UIUC for a few years and then joined NCSA in 2000.

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Kjellrun Olson
Program Manager

Kjellrun Olson has worked in project and program management in higher education and high-performance computing since 2005. Her prior experience was in high-tech start-up companies in marketing and business development. As a Blue Waters Co-PI and program manager she is responsible for a wide array of program management efforts. She holds an MBA and is a certified Project Management Professional.

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James Phillips
Senior Research Programmer

James C. Phillips has a Ph.D. in physics and over two decades of experience developing, deploying, distributing, and supporting portable and flexible high-performance parallel and GPU-accelerated software for scientific research, working in close collaboration with end-users to enable specific and challenging driving projects. From 1999 to 2017 James was the lead developer of the popular NAMD biomolecular simulation code, for which his 2005 reference paper has 15,000 citations, and which has been recognized with both a Gordon Bell Award in 2002 and a Gordon Bell Special Prize in HPC-Based COVID-19 Research in 2020. Based on his experience with a wide variety of HPC platforms, James joined the Blue Waters Project Office in 2017 to lead quality assurance and testing and is now collaborating with NGA researchers on hydrology and flood inundation modeling method and software development and optimization.

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Scott Lathrop
New Frontiers Initiative and Blue Waters Training and Outreach Coordinator

Through his position with the Shodor Education Foundation, Inc., Scott Lathrop is the New Frontiers Initiative and Blue Waters Training and Outreach Coordinator. Lathrop has been involved in high-performance computing and communications activities since 1986, with a focus on HPC education and training. Lathrop helps ensure that education, outreach, and training activities are addressing the needs and requirements of the New Frontiers and Blue Waters community.

Lathrop has been involved in the SC Conference series since 1989, served as a member of the SC Steering Committee, and served as the Conference Chair for the SC’11 and XSEDE14 Conferences. Lathrop has been active in the planning, presenting, and participation in ACM SIGHPC Education Chapter education and training workshops at numerous conferences including the annual ISC, PEARC, and SC Conference workshops. Information about the Blue Waters education, outreach, and training activities are at https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/education-overview

NFI Steering Committee

  • Susan Martinis, Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation
  • Melanie Loots, Executive Associate Vice Chancellor for Research
  • Dave Richardson, Executive Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation/Director, Security Management Office
  • William Gropp, NCSA Director and Professor of Computer Science