Earth & Climate Energy & Matter Researcher news

SMU seismologist Brian Stump named AAAS Fellow for distinguished scientific contributions

Stump’s work in underground nuclear explosion monitoring is significant in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

SMU seismologist Brian Stump has been named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow for distinguished contributions to his field, particularly in the area of seismic monitoring in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. Stump, Albritton Chair of Geological Sciences in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in SMU’s Dedman College, is the fifth professor at Southern Methodist University to be recognized as an AAAS Fellow.

“Dr. Stump is a scientist of the first rank and brings the results of his outstanding research into the classroom, where his students benefit from his example and insights as a scholar,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He richly deserves the AAAS recognition by his peers and we are proud that he calls SMU home.”

Stump is well known regionally for his continued work researching the increase of small earthquakes that have been occurring in North Texas since 2008.

But his work in detecting ground motion from explosions has for more than 20 years proved invaluable to the United States government in ensuring that the world’s nuclear powers abide by their agreements related to underground nuclear testing.

“Brian’s work has been seminal in scientists’ ability to rapidly and accurately discern the difference between an earthquake, a conventional explosion — such as might occur in a mining accident — and a nuclear test,” said James E. Quick, SMU vice president for research and dean of graduate studies. “His research is tremendously important to all of us, and yet he is equally committed to teaching and serving as a mentor to young faculty.”

Stump served as scientific adviser to the U.S. delegation to the Conference on Disarmament from 1994 through 1996 and continues to be called upon frequently to assist the U.S. government in the interpretation of seismic and acoustic data.

“I’m humbled by the recognition by the AAAS that science impacts the society in which we live,” Stump said. “I really believe that. And the work we’ve done at SMU on inducted seismicity in North Texas has that same blend of real science and societal impact.”

For the last five years Stump has chaired the Air Force Technical Applications Center Seismic Review Panel, which provides a review of federally funded efforts in nuclear monitoring. He served as a committee member on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Seismology and Continental Dynamics from 2007 through 2012, and recently completed a term as board chair for Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), a consortium of more than 100 universities funded by the National Science Foundation.

Stump joined SMU in 1983 from the Seismology Section of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. He graduated summa cum laude from Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore. with a bachelor of arts in physics in 1974, received a master of arts from the University of California at Berkeley in 1975 and received his Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1979 after completing a thesis titled Investigation of Seismic Sources by the Linear Inversion of Seismograms.

SMU faculty previously named as AAAS Fellows are James Quick, volcanologist and research dean, who was named a Fellow in 2013; environmental biochemistry scholar Paul W. Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs and a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 2003; anthropologist David J. Meltzer, Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in the Department of Anthropology who was named a Fellow in 1998; and James E. Brooks, provost emeritus and professor emeritus in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 1966.

The AAAS Fellows program began in 1874. AAAS members may be considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by the steering group of their respective sections, by three fellows, or by the association’s chief executive officer. Each steering group then reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and forwards a final list to the AAAS Council, which votes on the final list of fellows.

The Council is the policy making body of the AAAS, chaired by the president, and consisting of the members of the board of directors, the retiring section chairs, delegates from each electorate and each regional division, and two delegates from the National Association of Academies of Science. — Kimberly Cobb

Culture, Society & Family Researcher news SMU In The News

The Daily Campus: SMU’s new “ManeFrame” supercomputer unveiled at Data Center

950x150 ManeFrame_v2 rev

High-performance computers make it possible for researchers to study complex problems with massive amounts of data.

ManeFrame, previously known as MANA, was relocated to Dallas from its previous location in Maui, Hawaii. (Courtesy of
ManeFrame, previously known as MANA, was relocated to Dallas from its former location in Maui, Hawaii. (Courtesy of

Reporter Jehadu Abshiro with The Daily Campus covered the unveiling of ManeFrame, SMU’s new supercomputer.

The December arrival of the new supercomputer at SMU expands the University’s high performance computing capacity to weigh in among the top academic computers in the United States.

SMU Provost and Vice President Paul W. Ludden sponsored the contest to name the new supercomputer.

“High performance computing is a transformative technology that impacts many fields across the intellectual landscape, including physics and finance, chemistry and computing, engineering and economics, digital art, computer gaming, biology, data science, and many more fields,” said Ludden.

Read the full story.


By Jehadu Abshiro
The Daily Campus

The ManeFrame, SMU’s new super computer, was unveiled March 19 at 4 p.m. at the data center on the southeastern end of the campus.

Theoretical performance of MANA combined with SMU’s current system would exceed 120 teraflops. Flops is a measure of computer performance and an average consumer computer ranges from .25 to 7.5.

“High-performance computing has become an indispensible tool in the 21st century,” said James Quick, SMU associate vice president of Research and Dean Graduate Studies in a press release. “The incredible computational power provided by high-performance computing is widely used in science, engineering, business and the arts. ManeFrame brings this capability to Dallas.”

At its peak, ManeFrame is expected to be capable of more than 120 trillion mathematical operations a second.

Faculty and student research into subjects ranging from particle physics, to human behavior, to water quality and drug discovery would be increased. The new tool, installed in December, will be opened for campus in May.

High-performance computing makes it possible for researchers to study complex problems with massive amounts of data using sophisticated software and step-by-step recipes for calculations.

ManeFrame was previously located at the Maui High-Performance Computing Center, one of the five U.S. Department of Defense Supercomputing Resource Centers, according to Director of SMU’s Center for Scientific Computing Thomas Hagstrom.

The supercomputer was named “ManeFrame” in March after Chase Leinberger won the contest sponsored by Provost and Vice President Paul W. Ludden. The winner was decided by email vote by SMU faculty, staff and students.

Read the full story.

Follow on Twitter.

For more information,

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools. For more information see

SMU has an uplink facility located on campus for live TV, radio, or online interviews. To speak with an SMU expert or book an SMU guest in the studio, call SMU News & Communications at 214-768-7650.

Learning & Education Researcher news Technology

The power of ManeFrame: SMU’s new supercomputer boosts research capacity

950x150 ManeFrame_v2 rev

The enormous capacity of SMU’s new supercomputer ranks it among the largest academic supercomputers in the nation.

ManeFrame, previously known as MANA, was relocated to Dallas from its previous location in Maui, Hawaii. (Courtesy of
ManeFrame, previously known as MANA, was relocated to Dallas from its former location in Maui, Hawaii. (Courtesy of

SMU now has a powerful new tool for research – one of the fastest academic supercomputers in the nation – and a new facility to house it.

With a cluster of more than 1,000 Dell servers, the system’s capacity is on par with high-performance computing (HPC) power at much larger universities and at government-owned laboratories. The U.S. Department of Defense awarded the system to SMU in August 2013.

SMU’s Office of Information Technology added the system to the University’s existing – but much smaller – supercomputer. The system is housed in a new facility built at the corner of Mockingbird and Central Expressway. In a contest sponsored by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Paul W. Ludden, faculty and students chose the name “ManeFrame” to honor the Mustang mascot.

The enormous capacity and speed of HPC expands scientific access to new knowledge around key questions about the universe, disease, human behavior, health, food, water, environment, climate, democracy, poverty, war and peace.

“World-changing discoveries rely on vast computing resources,” says President R. Gerald Turner. “ManeFrame quintuples the University’s supercomputing capacity. Our scientists and students will keep pace with the increasing demand for the ever-expanding computing power that is required to participate in global scientific collaborations. This accelerates our research capabilities exponentially.”

ManeFrame potential
With nearly 11,000 central processing unit cores, ManeFrame boasts 40 terabytes (one terabyte equals a trillion bytes) of memory and more than 1.5 petabytes of storage (a petabyte equals a quadrillion bytes), says Joe Gargiulo, SMU’s chief information officer, who led the installation team.

The sciences and engineering primarily use supercomputers, but that is expanding to include the humanities and the arts. So far, SMU’s heavy users are researchers in physics, math, biology, chemistry and economics.

“This technologically advanced machine will have an impact on shaping our world,” says Thomas M. Hagstrom, chair of the Department of Mathematics in Dedman College and director of SMU’s Center for Scientific Computing. “This makes research that solves problems on a large scale much more accessible. ManeFrame’s theoretical peak would be on the order of 120 Teraflops, which is 120 trillion mathematical operations a second.”

Supercomputers can use sophisticated software and step-by-step procedures for calculations, called algorithms, to solve complex problems that can’t be managed in a researcher’s lab, Hagstrom explains.

“We can’t put the Earth’s climate system or study the evolution of the universe in a physical lab,” he says. “You can only study these and other systems in a comprehensive way using high-performance computing.”

Making SMU competitive
Supercomputing gave University physicists a role in the Higgs Boson research at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. Joining the collaboration with thousands of scientists around the world, SMU’s team was led by Physics Professor Ryszard Stroynowski. SMU’s physicists tapped the existing HPC on campus to quickly analyze massive amounts of data and deliver results to their international colleagues.

SMU’s team will use ManeFrame to keep pace with an even larger flood of data expected from the Large Hadron Collider.

“ManeFrame makes SMU – which is small by comparison with many of its peer institutions at CERN – nimble and competitive, and that lets us be visible in a big experiment like CERN,” says Stephen Sekula, assistant professor of physics. “So we have to have ideas, motivation and creativity – but having a technical resource like ManeFrame lets us act on those things.”

SMU physicist Pavel Nadolsky has conducted “big data” analyses of subatomic particles on the supercomputer as part of an international physics collaboration. Big data refers to probability distributions that depend on many variables. As users ranging from retailers to the health industry collect multitudes of transactional data every day, requirements for big data analysis are rapidly emerging.

“To keep up in our field, we need resources like ManeFrame,” says Nadolsky, associate professor of physics.

“The world is moving into big-data analysis, whether it’s Google, Facebook or the National Security Administration,” Nadolsky says. “We learn a lot about the world by studying multidimensional distributions: It tells about the origins of the universe; it can win elections by using data mining to analyze voting probabilities over time in specific geographical areas and targeting campaign efforts accordingly; and it can predict what people are doing. To make students competitive they must be trained to use these tools efficiently and ethically.”

ManeFrame will have a high-profile role in the U.S. Department of Energy experiment called NOvA, which studies neutrinos, a little-understood and elusive fundamental particle that may help explain why matter, and not just light, exists in the universe today. SMU will contribute four million processing hours each year to the experiment, says Thomas E. Coan, associate professor of physics and a member of the international team.

“We’re in good company with others providing computing, including California Institute of Technology and Harvard,” Coan says. “It’s one way for SMU to play a prominent role in the experiment. We get a lot of visibility among all the institutions participating in NOvA, which are spread out across five countries.”

Advancing discovery
One of the heaviest users of SMU’s HPC is John Wise, associate professor of biological sciences, who models a key human protein to improve chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. Wise works with the SMU Center for Drug Discovery, Design and Delivery in Dedman College, an interdisciplinary research initiative of the Biology and Chemistry departments and led by Professor of Biological Sciences Pia Vogel.

Within the Mathematics Department, Assistant Professor Daniel R. Reynolds and his team use high-performance computing to run simulations with applications in cosmology and fusion reactors.

Looking to the future, high-performance computing will be increasing in research, business and the arts, according to James Quick, associate vice president for research and dean of graduate studies.

“High-performance computing has emerged as a revolutionary tool that dramatically increases the rates of scientific discovery and product development, enables wise investment decisions and opens new dimensions in artistic creativity,” says Quick, professor of earth sciences. “SMU will use the computational power of ManeFrame to expand research and creativity and develop educational opportunities for students interested in the application of high-performance computing in their fields – be it science, engineering, business or the arts.” – Margaret Allen

Follow on twitter at @smuresearch.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools. For more information see

SMU has an uplink facility located on campus for live TV, radio, or online interviews. To speak with an SMU expert or book an SMU guest in the studio, call SMU News & Communications at 214-768-7650.