Posted by Susan Shen, UCB Student Intern, UCOP. “People think that I’m from the Midwest because of my accent, but I’m actually from San Luis Obispo,” says Christine Kirkpatrick, the Division Director for IT Systems and Services at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). A UCSD double alum, Kirkpatrick majored in political science and minored in Literature before getting her master’s in Architecture-based Enterprise Systems Engineering (AESE), which she described as the study of “how you build systems of many systems.”
At SDSC, a UC San Diego organized research unit that houses some of the brightest researchers in the field of computation and data science, Kirkpatrick heads the division that hosts the computing infrastructure for all of SDSC, and works to improve its services to better fit the demands of research computing at scale.
Why is it so important to optimize data management and storage at SDSC? “Usually, people think a terabyte is big, but SDSC has to deal with petabytes of information. We need to find ways to maximize the potential of the computing systems, to ‘stretch the dollar’ for research,” she explains. One of the original four national supercomputer centers, SDSC collaborates with other research institutions on projects; therefore, Kirkpatrick’s division must ensure that their data services are in perfect condition.
Kirkpatrick’s passions span more than just data science – she taught in UCSD Extension’s Education Department for 12 years, helping to launch the Online Teaching Certificate. “You can say that I taught online on how to teach an online course,” she joked. Noting that some people think the physical classroom provides the best learning experience, Kirkpatrick begs to differ. “I find that online courses make a big difference in the lives of people who can’t go to class, those who have the elderly to take care of, or their children, sometimes even both. I’ve even had foreign service agents located on islands I haven’t even heard of before take these courses in order to professionally develop their skills.”
Her love for data technology and higher education clearly manifests when she mentions a Coursera-Splunk partnership course series that she helped set up, create, and market. It will be released mid September. And the topic? Big data and the specialization of data science, of course!