Scientific Advisory Board

Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) oversees scientific excellence and outreach, and consists of individuals external to VECMA, internationally recognised, and active in different scientific domains. Current membership comprises:

Dr Rob Akers, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)

As Head of Advanced Computing at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, Rob leads a team of physicists, algorithm developers, HPC and High Throughput Computing Specialists, whose mission is to “accelerate the delivery of commercial fusion energy by exploiting advances in data science and extreme scale computing”. He is an ITER Scientific Fellow in charge of “integrated modelling”, he sits on the PMB of the STFC IRIS and the Ada Lovelace Centre (delivering National HTC capability with a focus upon interdisciplinary solutions spanning the UK’s large science facilities) and is part of the UKRI team charged with defining the UK e-Infrastructure roadmap. At UKAEA, he and his team are responsible for delivering strategy and technology for a growing portfolio of experiments and facilities, including the £86M National Fusion Technology Facilities (NFTP) made up of the Hydrogen-3 Advanced Technology Facility (H3AT), the Fusion Technology Facilities (FTF): and the MAST-Upgrade Tokamak, an exciting experiment to develop plasma exhaust solutions for the first commercial fusion reactors: His team are embedded in the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), leading EOSC Hub Fusion and developing cloud burst technology as part of EOSC:Pilot and are part of a European H2020 funded project to develop Fusion OpenData technology and policies. His own research focuses upon Fast Ion tokamak physics (as a pioneer of using GPUs for the fast ion Monte Carlo simulation of neutral beam heating). As we approach ITER and the Exascale, Rob is charged with rapidly growing the UKAEA Advanced Computing Programme, by working with partners across the HEIs, industry, with HPC specialists such as Intel, Nvidia and HPE as well as UK centres of excellence in data science and supercomputing (the Alan Turing Institute, the Hartree Centre etc.). He is always keen to explore new collaborations and opportunities for interdisciplinary working in the true spirit of UKRI.

Dr Wayne Arter, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)

Wayne Arter has been a scientist at UKAEA’s Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, the UK’s national fusion research laboratory, since 2009. His current major role is technical lead on the Fusion Modelling System use case for ExCALIBUR (the UK’s Exascale research programme). The use case is modelling of tokamak edge with emphasis on uncertainty quantification, aiming for increased physics understanding and better fusion reactor engineering design. His interests also extend into allied fields, such as data analysis and visualisation, and CAD and mesh generation. Common to much of his research work has been the investigation of physical phenomena, usually nonlinear for government-funded work and linear for commercial work, by means of computer simulation. Examples of his nonlinear studies are thermal convection (Rayleigh-Benard problem), magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), turbulence of fluids and plasmas, and collisionless plasmas. Example linear problems are the propagation of electromagnetic radiation through dielectric, transients induced by lightning strike and neutron transport. Highlights of Wayne Arter’s career include: design of a successful high power microwave source (150 MW magnetron); a major review article on the numerical simulation of fusion plasmas; definition and study of the convection model now referred to as the “Arter flow”.

Professor Peter Challenor, University of Exeter

Peter Challenor has broad interests; mainly about uncertainty in the natural world. These range from the statistical analysis of complex numerical models (such as those used to simulate climate) to the interpolation of noisy data and the estimation of the amount of renewable energy in the ocean. Peter is the principal investigator on the NERC RAPID-WATCH project RAPIT looking at the risk of the shut down or significant slowing of the Atlantic Meridional Current. This project relies on thousands of climate simulations carried out by members of the public via climate

Professor Shantenu Jha, Rutgers University

Shantenu Jha is an Associate Professor of Computer Engineering at Rutgers University, and the Chair of the Center for Data Driven Discovery (C3D) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. His research interests are at the intersection of high-performance distributed computing and computational & data science. Shantenu leads the the RADICAL-Cybertools project which are a suite of middleware building blocks used to support large-scale science and engineering applications. He was appointed a Rutgers Chancellor’s Scholar (2015) and was the recipient of the inaugural Chancellor’s Excellence in Research (2016) for his cyberinfrastructure contributions to computational science. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award (2013), several prizes at SC’xy and ISC’xy as well as the winner of SCALE 2018. More details can be found at

Professor Petros Koumoutsakos, ETH Zurich

Petros Koumoutsakos holds the Chair for Computational Science at ETH Zurich and serves as Fellow of the Collegium Helveticum. He studied Naval Architecture (Diploma-NTU of Athens, M.Eng.-U. of Michigan), Aeronautics and Applied Mathematics (PhD-Caltech). He has conducted post-doctoral studies at the Center for Parallel Computing at Caltech and at the Center for Turbulent Research at Stanford University and NASA Ames. Petros is elected Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Physical Society (APS), the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and the Collegium Helveticum. He has held visiting fellow positions at Caltech, the University of Tokyo, MIT and the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard University. He is recipient of the Advanced Investigator Award by the European Research Council and the ACM Gordon Bell prize in Supercomputing. He is elected Foreign Member to the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE). His research interests are on the fundamentals and applications of computing to understand, predict and optimize fluid flows in engineering, nanotechnology, and medicine.

Professor Maziar Nekovee, University of Sussex

Maziar Nekovee is a Full Professor and Dean of Sussex-Zhejiang GongShang AI Institute at the University of Sussex, UK. Prior to this role he was Head of Department of Engineering and Product Design at University of Sussex. In addition to over 15 years of leadership and research experience at top Universities in the UK and China, he has over 15 years of experience of leading and conducting industrial research and collaborations in telecommunication and mobile technology sectors, working for and with tier-one industry in Korea, UK, Europe, the United States, China and Japan. He is an elected Vice Chair of NetWorld 2020 European Technology Platform in Communication Networks and Services, where he contributes to beyond-5G and 6G strategic research and innovation agenda of Horizon Europe in Smart Networks and Services (SNS).

Dr Mariano Vazquez, Barcelona Supercomputing Centre (BSC)

Mariano Vázquez, PhD (male): MV is Research Team Leader at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, where since 2005 has co-leaded the Alya Project. He is also president and CTO of ELEM Biotech, a BSC’s spinoff company. Alya is the in-house parallel multi-physics simulation tool, which currently involves around 40 researchers and developers. Alya is specifically designed to run efficiently in supercomputers, being capable of simulating problems of the greatest complexity. His main research lines fall within Computational Science, such as Computational Bio-Mechanics (particularly Solid Mechanics of organic tissue and Electrophysiology) at organ and system level. Following these lines, the team develops a simulation tool to study the cardiovascular and respiratory systems targeted to biomedical researchers in academia, medical devices sector and pharmaceutical industry. Infarction, ageing, aneurisms rupture risk, arrhythmias, stent design or drug delivery are among the topics where such a tool can become a decisive help.

Dr Marco Verdicchio, SURFsara

Marco Verdicchio (PhD) studied chemistry at the Università degli Studi di Perugia from where, in 2012, he got a PhD in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry under a joint supervision program between the University of Perugia (IT) and the University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse (FR). In 2013, he joined the ENSIC (Nancy, FR) as a postdoctoral researcher in the field of combustion chemistry, and in 2014 he moved to the Chemical Sciences and Engineering division at the Argonne National Laboratory (USA) to work, as postdoctoral appointee, in the field of computational combustion and atmospheric chemistry. He joined SURFsara, as HPC consultant, in September 2016 and has been involved in the CompBioMed H2020-EU project since then.