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Gateways 2023 Perspective: Roderick Tabalba Jr. (Supported Student)

By Roderick Tabalba Jr. | University of Hawai'i

Hello everyone!

I'm glad to be able to share my experience at the Science Gateways conference in 2023, which was held in the city of Pittsburgh, PA. First and foremost, a huge thank you to the conference organizers for their support, making it possible for me to attend Gateways 2023.

Arriving in Pittsburgh during November is a drastic shift in weather compared to the perpetual summer of Hawaii. Surprisingly, the cold in Pittsburgh was a pleasant experience, and exploring this city, known for its steel history, left me with lasting memories. Navigating through football day foot traffic, especially given our hotel's proximity to the stadium, added an extra layer of excitement. 

The Science Gateways conference provided an incredible opportunity to learn about the current technology and advancements in online web portals and the supporting infrastructure. Before this event, terms like Globus, Tapis, and Open OnDemand were somewhat abstract data-related concepts. However, after hearing the various talks and connecting with a few fellow attendees, I better understood the processes and workflows integral to building such systems and what they can be used for. 

My primary objective at Science Gateways was to showcase my work within the NSF-funded Smart Amplified Group Environment (SAGE3) project. SAGE3 is a groundbreaking software designed to enhance collaboration by facilitating content sharing on large tiled media walls, bridging geographical distances. I developed a visualization tool that enables users to access the Hawaii Climate Data Portal (HCDP) to create visualizations and dashboards in a no-coding environment. This allows users like farmers, scientists, and policymakers to create their custom-made dashboards in Hawaii's diverse weather. 

One of the highlights of my experience was the mentorship provided by Shayan Khan from the Texas Advanced Computing Center. His expertise in web portals and insights into the Tapis infrastructure significantly enhanced my knowledge regarding data portal technologies. It was the first time Shayan and I attended the Science Gateways 2023 conference, and having a partner there really enhanced our overall experience. For instance, meeting the other attendees with a partner is a lot easier than doing it alone.

Now, let's talk about the culinary delights! Science Gateways provided a fantastic array of delectable lunch and dinner offerings that outshone all other conferences I've attended. The diverse and flavorful selection truly satisfied my taste buds, making it an exceptional culinary experience. I wished that I brought a second stomach so that I could have extended my eating time.

The keynote speakers at Science Gateways were outstanding. Alex Wright delved into design thinking and user-centered design methods. Wendy Nilsen shared insights on collaboration in interdisciplinary teams. Finally, Joe Palca, the renowned science journalist, left a lasting impression. Palca's presentation, showcasing his experience in a four-decade career, resonated deeply with me, emphasizing the role of scientists in communicating their work to the public. It was a potent reminder that our innovations and advancements should push the boundaries of science and technology and be accessible to the wider public.

Science Gateways 2023 provided a very memorable experience that enhanced my understanding of the current technological landscape of cyberinfrastructure and the development of web portals. I had the amazing opportunity to meet intelligent individuals passionate about advancing science and technology. Lastly, Pittsburgh is an amazing city that has etched incredible, breathtaking memories in my mind that will last a lifetime.