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Gateways 2022 Travel Support Blog: Anuj Tiwari

Attending Gateways 2022 - My First In-Person Conference During the Pandemic 

By: Anuj Tiwari

I was very excited about flying out to be present at Gateway 2022 in San Diego for two reasons. Firstly, to escape the increasingly cooling weather of Chicago. Secondly, and possibly more crucial, to ultimately attend an in-person event, and interact with people face-to-face after two years of virtual interactions

Gateways 2022 Young Professionals Magic Show DinnerI arrived in San Diego the day before the conference started in order to attend the dinner for young professionals. As soon as my Uber pulled out of the airport, I felt the warmth of the sunlight coming from my window and when I looked out, I saw beautiful and peaceful view of the Pacific Ocean. With this very short trip from the airport to my hotel, I found myself already in love with San Diego’s relaxed vibe and natural connection to the ocean. This happiness was soon uplifted when I was invited to the Young Professionals Award Ceremony hosted by the Gateways 2022 conference, and was greeted with a magic show hosted by renowned magician, Alex Ramon. For a full hour, our dinner was mesmerized by sleight of hand tricks, mentalism, and illusion. Plus, Alex is an engaging personality with a twinkling eye and a winning smile. You can’t help but sit on the edge of your seat.

The Gateways Conference series is an annual conference organized by the Science Gateway Community Institute (SGCI). It offers gateway developers, researchers and users an opportunity to connect with and learn from colleagues with diverse experiences, approaches, and academic interests.

Gateways 2022 James Webb Telescope TalkThe first day of the conference finally arrived. As the sun‘s rays started piercing through the clouds, people started pouring into the beautiful conference venue. The venue offered the perfect combination of industrial and modern but unique and unlike the typical conference spaces you might find elsewhere. The keynote lecture was extremely promising. An incredible and truly inspiring story of the James Webb Telescope was presented by project scientist, Matthew Greenhouse. The audience of more than one hundred people were all fascinated, both by the amazing engineering of James Webb and Matthew Greenhouse’s art of storytelling.

Tiwari and Gesing at Gateways 2022 Poster Session

I tried to make the most out of the rest of the sessions and I attended as many as I could, which allowed me to meet many people from this amazing world of science gateways. When the poster session began, all the participants gathered up and started discussing poster by poster. I received a lot of feedback on my poster, “A Science Gateway for Wastewater-based Epidemiology – a Case Study of the World’s Largest Wastewater Treatment Plant in Chicago”. After all the participants observed my poster, I started observing other participants' posters. I found that there was one poster from a high school student, and multiple from undergraduate students. I was especially impressed with the great efforts of the science gateway leaders of engaging school students and bringing them on such a great stage to demonstrate their first steps into the fascinating world of high-performance computing and science gateways. In the end, we enjoyed the delicious dinner by Venue 808 catering where we had healthy discussions along with some sharing with the participants. 

Gateways 2022 AI KeynoteKrishna Madhavan, Principal Group Manager, Microsoft Education Growth, kicked off the second day conference. His presentation on ‘AI and Graph Systems as Foundations for Next Generation Learning Experience’ successfully grabbed all the audience concentration even when San Diego Padres secured a historic win with 8-5 over Philadelphia Phillies at across the road Petco Park stadium. After the keynote, each following hour had well planned panel discussions and individual sessions by highly respected and knowledgeable speakers in the field. The dynamic topics range from most trending subjects like HPC curriculum enhancement, cloud computing, to sessions for science gateway early researchers — Support options for science gateways at the NSF, Gateway Influencer recruitment plan etc. The second day ended with a conference social event. The evening event provided a time to socialize, meet people, and to chat with our admired data scientists over some amazing drinks named after science gateway legendary scientists. After the retreat, I headed to the hotel and was eager to learn more on the last day.

The last day started with the presentation of remarkable keynote speaker, John Towns from NCSA. He discussed the success stories, challenges, current status and future plans of NSF ACCESS program. After the keynote, it was the last chance of networking and I grabbed my coffee and was looking around to find who I can join. I ended up sitting with the same group of school students and I asked them about their research. Talking with them was a very enlightening experience and as I stood there and listened to their experience working for a small but extremely provoking science gateway research idea, I looked around and realized the level of aspiration current school students at that moment had. Later, I attended some more interesting sessions like Tapis API, VistDict and the Delta Gateway. In closing, the conferences gave out a lot of prizes and certificates including best poster award.

In conclusion, the in-person conference was a good reminder that connecting face-to-face is an unparalleled experience. We’ve forgotten the power of spontaneous hallway conversations, the sound of chatter, the enjoyment of a meal together as a group, eye contact, body language, and audience reactions like applause and standing ovations. I made some good memories and have a lot of positive feedback about how “refreshing,” “energizing,” “joyful,” and great it was to be in-person again in Gateways 2022.


Anuj Tiwari
Research Associate
Discovery Partners Institute
Chicago, IL, USA

Gateways 2022 took place from October 18-20, 2022 in San Diego, CA.

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