2010: Mariana Vertenstein

Mariana Vertenstein is the recipient of the 2010 CESM Distinguished Achievement Award. Mariana has been a member of the CESM Software Engineering Group (CSEG) since its inception and has led and managed the team since 2004. Over this period she has instigated and overseen significant improvements to the model's infrastructure capabilities that now permit new flexibility and extensibility to address the challenges involved in earth system modeling. In leading CSEG, Mariana has done a tremendous job setting priorities for the group, and she been instrumental in overseeing the release of CESM to the community in June 2010.

Mariana led the development of a new CESM coupling architecture that takes a completely different approach with respect to the high-level design of the system, and forms an integral part of CESM. The CESM coupling infrastructure now provides the ability to use a single code base in a start-to-end development cycle; from model parameterization development that might only require a single processor, to performing ultra high resolution simulations on HPC platforms using tens-of-thousands of cores. The CESM coupling architecture also provides the "plug and play" capability of using either a data or an active version of any model component and includes a user-friendly scripting system and informative timing utilities. Together, these tools enable a user to create a wide variety of "out-of-the-box" experiments for different model configurations and resolutions and also to determine the optimal load balance for those experiments to ensure maximal throughput and efficiency. CESM is also able to target much higher resolutions than any previous CCSM coupled model due to Mariana’s leadership of efforts to reduce the memory footprint and to improve scaling in all components.

In summary, the key factor setting the pace of scientific research using the CESM is its software engineering. The community requires the flexibility to add new components to the model, run efficiently across a wide range of computer platforms, and to provide tools to allow scientists to easily configure and run the very large number of configurations required for state-of-the-art climate research. Through Mariana’s leadership of CSEG and her extensive collaboration with the scientific working groups, the Software Engineering Working Group (SEWG), and NCAR’s CISL, this challenge has been met.

Congratulations Mariana!