Hai Ah Nam

Hai Ah Nam is a Computational Nuclear Physicist in the Scientific Computing Group within the National Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS) Division in the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF).

After graduating with a Master’s degree in Physics from Carnegie Mellon, Hai Ah worked in the internet industry and then as a high school Mathematics teacher. Her passion for Physics eventually led her back to graduate school to obtain a PHD in Computational Science from the joint doctoral program at San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University. While working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in conjunction with her doctoral work, she immersed herself not only in her research, but also in networking and involvement with various conferences. “Through serving on the SC07 Student Cluster Challenge Committee, I met Ricky Kendall (Group Leader for Scientific Computing at ORNL). After the conference, I sent him my resume, and while I was in Oak Ridge for a conference, we met for an interview. I was offered a position shortly after that.”

Hai Ah’s work at the Lab allows her to bridge two different scientific domains: nuclear physics and high performance computing. Her current research involves developing and using several theoretical many-body nuclear methods, including coupled-cluster, quantum monte carlo, no-core shell model, and density functional theory to perform frontier scientific calculations on the leadership class supercomputers. She is also a recipient of ORNL’s Significant Event Award for Jaguar’s upgrade to the world's most powerful supercomputer in 2009, and was very involved in upgrading Jaguar to the Titan supercomputer.

“I would recommend working here if you want to be in a place surrounded by brilliant minds that love to solve problems, and where the problems you’re working on are focused on improving the nation and making a better future for children.  Sounds corny, but it’s true.  Working in computing also has an added benefit of flexibility – if you have to stay at home with a sick child or it’s a snow day and the schools are closed (an oddity to this native Californian), it’s great that I can still have a productive day working from home.  As long as I can connect to the Internet, then I’m a few clicks away from the world’s fastest supercomputer, which is my working ground.”

In addition to her work at ORNL, Hai Ah has been extremely involved within the scientific community focusing on outreach to the next-generation.  She served on the organizing committee for the Southeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics in 2012 and also as the SC10 Student Cluster Competition Technical Committee Chair in 2010. She also travels around the country giving talks about her work.


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