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People of SGCI: Mona Wong

Mona Wong

Software Engineer
San Diego Supercomputer Center
University of California, San Diego

What is your role within SGCI and what do you do?

I am a science gateway developer on the Extended Developer Support team. My role is to assist collaborators with the development of their research gateway.

How did you come to be a part of SGCI, and why were you intrigued by the opportunity?

SGCI’s PI, Nancy Wilkins-Diehr and I both work at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. I worked as a web application developer on several projects, including SDSC’s User Portal, CIPRES, iDASH’s iConcur, SeedMe, and others. Even before I worked for Nancy, I knew she was a proponent of science gateways (or simply portals as it was called back in those days). When I heard about these portals, I was very excited as I love science and enjoy working with scientists to help them better understand this amazing world that we live in and to share that knowledge with others. I felt there was no better way to use my technical skills than to contribute to science so I jumped at the chance when Nancy asked me to join her on the XSEDE project as a science gateway developer in the ECSS Science Gateway team. Our work continues with the new Science Gateways Community Institute as we branch out to other research communities that do not (yet) have a need for high-performance computing.

What is the most challenging part of your work for SGCI?

I find the project pace challenging at times. Each project is normally assigned 25% effort which means about 1.5 days per week. It can be difficult to make meaningful progress at that rate, especially when debugging a problem. I try to remedy this by working in 2-week rotations which gives me 3 consecutive days every 2 weeks per project which is helpful due to the larger blocks of time. Recently, I had a big problem that took 6 project days to figure out which equated to a whole month in calendar time. I often feel I need to apologize for the apparent slow pace of progress and have started to inform the collaborators at the start of the project about the pace so they can set their expectations accordingly and hopefully don’t get too frustrated. Luckily, all collaborators I’ve worked with have been very gracious; after all, they are getting free development time!

How else are you involved in the technology or gateway community?

I always attend the free webinars that SGCI and XSEDE provide to learn, get new ideas and see if there is anything that can help one of my projects. I also enjoy sharing my experience and knowledge with others in the gateway community. I am also constantly on the lookout for a research project that may benefit from having a science gateway and if I can, shepherd them through the process to get development support.

What do you most like to do in your free time?

I LOVE to travel as much as possible. I also enjoy walks in nature, gardening, ballet (dancing and watching), meditation and watching a good science fiction movie with my husband.

If you were a superhero, what superpower would you have?

Oh, I love this question...I heard someone ask this on a radio interview once and I have always wanted someone to ask me this so thanks for the opportunity to fantasize! I can’t settle on just one, here is my list...ability to live forever, read minds (human and non-human), be invisible and fly!