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Gateways 2017 Conference

By Nayiri Mullinix

"Attending Gateways 2017 was on the top of my list for this year and the event was even better than I envisioned. It was great to see a welcoming community of like-minded people to learn about interesting projects, share thoughts, and make plans for the future. The organization of the event was one of the best I've ever attended; every aspect of the program was planned in a thoughtful way and should be used as a template for other similar-sized events.”

Enis Afgan
Research Scientist
Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University

The Gateways 2017 conference took place October 23–25, 2017 on the campus of the University of Michigan. The conference was attended by 102 people, 19 of which were students. SGCI was pleased to offer travel support to 13 students, 2 educators from Minority-Serving Institutions, and an additional 10 attendees. Participants joined from 20 states and 3 countries, traveling to Ann Arbor from as far away as Australia.

The first day of the conference was dedicated entirely to tutorials. There were nine tutorials to choose from, all of which were designed to provide attendees with practical, hands-on tools and techniques by offering topics ranging from how to draft an evaluation plan to working with the Jupyter notebook platform.

The full day of learning was followed by an evening reception hosted at Menlo Innovations, a local Ann Arbor-based software development company known for its emphasis on bringing joy to the workplace. Founded by CEO and Chief Storyteller Richard Sheridan, the company is focused on fostering a joyful culture at Menlo, and those at the reception were able to learn how they do so by attending one of several tours offered by Richard throughout the evening.

"I learned a great deal from the conference presentations, even though I am new to the community. I am particularly impressed by how the human infrastructure (community engagement, training and education, expertise to develop gateways, etc.) enables sustainable support for development and use of gateways. I want to learn more about how we can learn from SGCI as we develop research infrastructure to support biomedical researchers.”

Airong Luo, Ph.D.
Research IT Program
Medical School Information Services
University of Michigan Medical School

The following two days offered a packed conference program (proceedings available on the Gateways 2017 portal sponsored by figshare). Tuesday began with recognizing the three recipients of this year’s Young Professional of the Year awards. These awards are given to young professional to acknowledge notable achievement in the advancement of science gateways. This year’s recipients were:

  • Joseph Yun, Ph.D. candidate in Informatics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Rajesh Kalyanam, Software Engineer in Research Computing at Purdue University
  • Hector Corzo, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Auburn University

The first keynote of the conference followed the brief awards ceremony. Elyse L. Aurbach, co-founder and co-director of the science communication and public engagement organization RELATE, presented “Your Audience Comes First: The Key to Communication and Engagement,” which offered tips on how to establish effective communication practices to explain the significance of gateways to users, researchers, educators, and other stakeholders. Elyse explained how to develop communication efforts with goals that align with those of the target audience by using storytelling to convey clear messages, as well as appropriate language and visual elements in order to effectively communicate. The keynote was followed by concurrent sessions that offered attendees a variety of topics and themes to choose from: Tools for Secure Access, Gateway Journeys, Systems to Connect Resources, and Drawing on Experience to Promote Quality and Sustainability.

This busy day was followed by an immersive evening, as guests walked across the street to attend the evening Reception, Poster Session, and Resource Expo that was hosted at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA). Conference attendees were treated to a private viewing of UMMA’s impressive galleries prior to the start of the reception. The evening featured 22 posters and 11 organizations who participated in the Resource Expo, including conference sponsors HUBzero, Omnibond’s CloudyCluster, and Indiana University Pervasive Technology Institute. SGCI partners also participated, such as Globus, BOINC, XSEDE, and Jetstream. Additional participating organizations included MathWorks, Open Science Grid, Galaxy Project, and SGCI. All this in addition to a variety of foods, a special edition of HUBzero beers, live piano, and lively conversation made the gathering both fun and informative.

"To me, science gateways are, by nature, defined broadly and have diverse applications. As a scientific software developer and computational consultant, attending Gateways 2017 gave me the specificity I needed to be able to make recommendations to the faculty I work with across our campus. The SGCI staff very patiently answered all of my questions about their mission, but seeing a gateway in action—specifically QUBEShub—was the 'aha' moment I needed to put it all together. The final keynote crystallized what the SGCI is helping to build. Now I can go back to my faculty fully understanding how SGCI can help them."
Patrick Bills
Research Consultant
Institute for Cyber Enabled Research
Biomedical and Physical Sciences
Michigan State University

“It was my first time attending the Gateways conference series and I felt very welcome from the start. I met a lot of interesting people and I was just generally overwhelmed by the diversity of attendees. These people are not only talking about interdisciplinary work but they are living it. I will gladly attend again. It has been a great experience.”

Alexander Nolte

Research Associate, Institute for Software Research

Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, the final conference day, kicked off with a panel discussion about the first Science Gateways Bootcamp hosted by the SGCI Incubator team in April of 2017. Led by SGCI’s Mike Zentner, the panel featured two Bootcamp instructors and four participants from the inaugural Bootcamp who discussed the outcomes and lessons learned from the week-long workshop and reflected more generally on issues of critical importance to sustaining science gateways. The panel was followed by more concurrent sessions which offered participants a new set of tracks to choose from, including Tools for Data Systems, Educational Gateways and Their Design, and Gateway Demos.Following the concurrent sessions was the second keynote of the conference, given by Ian Stokes-Rees, Computational Scientist at Anaconda Inc. His talk, entitled “Beyond the Science Gateway: Connecting Cyberinfrastructure Back to the Laptop” explored the importance of considering how a science gateway can fit into the broader computational ecosystem of a particular researcher or research group. Ian discussed how this is being done today, the history of gateways that led to the current practices, and also suggested some ideas for how this could be expanded in the future.

The conference program concluded after Open Space sessions, which encourage spontaneous discussion on emergent topics of interest to the attendees. Some topics included “Open Communities: GitHub vs Foundations” and “Data Portals for instrument-generated data.” Those who were in town for dinner after the end of the conference gathered at the legendary Zingerman’s Deli for dinner.


SGCI thanks our five sponsors for their generous support of the conference:

Platinum: HUBzero

Gateways 2017 by the Numbers

9 tutorials
30 paper and demo presentations
2 keynote presentations
1 panel
121 authors
102 attendees
11 organizations in the Resource Expo
22 posters  
19 students
Travel support grants provided
   funds for 13 students,
   2 faculty from MSIs,
   and an additional 10 attendees

Gold: CloudyCluster

Silver: Indiana University Pervasive Technology Institute

Bronze: San Diego Supercomputer Center and Texas Advanced Computing Center

We hope to see you at Gateways 2018 in Austin, TX September 25-27!


"I have been attending the Gateways series since 2015. Like the previous events, Gateways 2017 was successful for me in terms of having the opportunity to meet people who are working in the field of developing scientific computing infrastructure. At both Gateways 2016 and 2017, I met people from different science communities who are active users of gateways, and talking with them gives me an opportunity to understand what they are up to and how HPC infrastructure is changing and adopting modern technologies (especially cloud). This first-hand information is always helpful to understand the trends that drive the research."

Pankaj Saha

Ph.D. Candidate

Cloud & Big Data Lab, Binghamton University

Read the guest blog post from Sarah Richmond, who traveled from Australia to present at the Gateways 2017 conference.