"We can solve more problems in science, we just need manpower", stated Sultana Nahar, a senior research professor in Ohio State's Department of Astronomy. "Through these workshops, we can achieve our goals faster."
Supercomputing services through the Ohio Supercomputer Center help Sultana Nahar conduct computational workshops as part of her lecture courses. These workshops train participants to use computer programmes for research projects.
As a longtime Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) client since accepting a post-doctoral fellowship position at Ohio State in 1990, Sultana Nahar knows the importance of high performance computing for her own research. Sultana Nahar has used OSC for large-scale, high-accuracy computations for atomic processes under the international collaborations of the Opacity Project and the IRON Project. These projects aim to solve long-standing astrophysical problems and have earned her the nickname "Iron Lady" for her extensive work on complex iron ions in space.
The value of having OSC support her is especially vital to Sultana Nahar's efforts to educate students and researchers in underdeveloped countries.
Sultana Nahar has been teaching courses and conducting workshops for students and faculty members in countries such as Bangladesh, Egypt, and India - drawing students from many universities in each country - to expand and grow international diversity for science engineering students and post-doctoral researchers.
"This is of great importance; without the workshops, it is very difficult for these students to learn codes and understand the programs for their research", she stated. "They're very smart, as smart as any students in developed countries. They just need resources."
In the mid-1990s, Sultana Nahar started an outreach programme to help improve the quality of education and research in underserved areas and to encourage international involvement of scientists in developing countries, such as her home country of Bangladesh. The outreach programmes evolved when she began doing physics workshops with programs installed at OSC through e-mails for researchers in Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.
In 2013, Sultana Nahar traveled to Cairo University in Egypt for her first on-site workshop, thanks to an agreement between the Ohio State University and Cairo University. Sultana Nahar initiated and coordinated the arrangement years ago as part of her mentoring efforts; it covers the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering.
That initial atomic astrophysics course, which included the computation workshop, was a tremendous success.
"We had students, researchers, faculty members from seven organisations", Sultana Nahar stated. "We met three times a week and some would travel more than an hour to attend the two-hour-long classes and workshops", Sultana Nahar stated. "They were very interested in the workshops for two reasons: One, my topics are interesting and are research based; and two, the supercomputer center is a highly sophisticated facility they can use."
Certificates for the course were given out by the Dean of Faculty of Science in a ceremony held in special Ibn Sina Hall, and Sultana Nahar received the "Shield of Faculty of Science" with appreciation. She has continued delivering the computational-based course at Cairo University with attendants from multiple institutions. Professor Ola Hassouneh of the University of Jordan in Amman registered for the course in 2016 mainly for the computational workshop for her research, although she ultimately could not get the approval to leave her teaching duty.
In the years since the STEM workshops started, Sultana Nahar has taught at the universities of Delhi, Kashmir, and King Saud in Riyadh. This past spring, Sultana Nahar delivered her third STEM workshop on atomic astrophysics with computational workshops in Aligarh Muslim University in India, with which Ohio State has an MOA. Members from chemistry, computer science, and engineering join those from physics. Researchers in other universities are interested in the course. Nahar will be giving the course at three universities in Bangladesh in 2017.
Using OSC's resources and Sultana Nahar's training, those students - were able to submit papers, much as they do today.
The course involved lectures and learning to use programs such as the R-matrix package of codes on atomic structure and processes that run on the OSC clusters. As with past workshops, these help the students gain experience as they try to attain their doctorates.
"One of the most important parts of STEM education and research is computation of parameters for solving real problems", Sultana Nahar stated. "It's not easy to calculate and we need very high accuracy in our results, that can only be achieved through precise computations with high performance computer facilities. Without OSC, I could not run this programme, and they could not learn."