John "Skip" Reddy is the high-performance computing infrastructure team lead at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), which many researchers rely upon to solve some of the world's largest and most complex problems. Skip came to Argonne in 2010 from Brookhaven National Laboratory, located on his native Long Island. In August 2016, he received the UChicago Argonne, LLC, Board of Governors' Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award for his founding of Spectrum, Argonne's LGBTQA+ employee resource group.
What sort of work do you do at Argonne?
My team is responsible for the installation and maintenance of ALCF supercomputing resources. We provide support for the IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer, Mira. We're also installing a new Cray XC40 called Theta and contributing to the planning of the Aurora system, Argonne's next step towards exascale computing.
Why did you come to work at Argonne?
I worked in central IT at Brookhaven National Laboratory for about six years and then left Brookhaven in November 2010 to come here to Argonne. I'd been working on some general-purpose high-performance computing systems at Brookhaven and found a position at ALCF that provided me with additional challenges.
What do you enjoy about working at Argonne?
Here at Argonne, I'm contributing to the advancement of human knowledge. When I tell people why I like my job, that's the answer. I'm not a scientist, but my job and my tasks enable science to happen. That is the core reason I'm here.
Why is enabling science important to you as a person?
Whenever I try to explain what kind of science happens on Mira or on our other supercomputers, one of the ones that really stuck out was a discussion about taking MRI data, processing it and being able to plot out pressures in the brain as a diagnostic tool to prevent or rapidly address aneurisms. The systems I support can have direct impacts on improving people's lives in a very real way. Lives can be saved. Having that sort of impact is important.
What sorts of extracurricular activities do you participate in at Argonne?
I am a founding member of Spectrum, Argonne's LGBTQA+ employee resource group. The organization fosters an environment of understanding, acceptance and equality for all within the laboratory community.
Spectrum started in 2014 as an email discussion forum to enable the sharing of ideas and resources among employees. We've received "thank yous" from several people for creating the mailing list. Some individuals actively participate, others sit on the mailing list and read. Not everyone feels comfortable or safe being out.
While there have been many advances in the rights of LGBTQ people, we are not where we need to be. We still have people who are afraid. We still have people who are uncomfortable in their own skin, and we have people who are uncomfortable with how other folks present themselves. The only way we can improve things is by being out and being visible, and showing that there is no significant difference between us.