Laxmikant V. Kale & Klaus Schulten

2012 Sidney Fernbach Joint Award Recipients

"For outstanding contributions to the development of widely used parallel software for large biomolecular systems simulation"


Professor Laxmikant "Sanjay" Kale is the director of the Parallel Programming Laboratory and a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prof. Kale has been working on various aspects of parallel computing since 1983. His focus is on enhancing performance and productivity via adaptive runtime systems, which support automatic dynamic load balancing, fault tolerance, and power management. He developed the "migratable objects" parallel programming model and its implementation in the Charm++ parallel programming system. In addition to the traditional HPC platforms, the adaptivity of this model is well-suited for cloud environments. Underlying his work is the belief that only interdisciplinary research involving multiple applications, in science and engineering as well outside of it, can bring back well-honed abstractions into computer science that will have a long-term impact on the state-of-art. His collaborations include the widely used Gordon-Bell award winning (SC'2002) biomolecular simulation program NAMD, as well as collaborations on developing computational cosmology code ChaNGA, quantum chemistry (OpenAtom),  agent based Simulation (EpiSimdemics), weather and climate codes, rocket simulation, space-time meshes, and other unstructured mesh applications. He takes pride in his group's success in distributing and supporting software embodying his research ideas, including Charm++, Adaptive MPI and associated tools. His team won the HPC Challenge award at Supercomputing 2011, for their entry based on Charm++.

Kale received a B.Tech degree in Electronics Engineering from Benares Hindu University in 1977, and a M.E. in Computer Science from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 1979.  He received a Ph.D. in computer science from State University of New York, Stony Brook, in 1985.

He worked as a scientist at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research from 1979 to 1981. He joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1985. Prof. Kale is a fellow of the IEEE.

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Klaus Schulten is Swanlund Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he directs the NIH Biotechnology Research Center on Macromolecular Modeling and co-directs the NSF Physics Frontier Center on Living Cell Physics.

His research focuses, since four decades, on the questions how biomolecules in living cells assemble and cooperate to carry out their functions and which organizational principles and physical mechanism are involved the processes. The research, done jointly with experimental laboratories, required the development of mathematical as well as computational methods and the integration of new technologies. Key discoveries from his group resolved the mechanical motion of biological cells,  sensory processes in vision and animal navigation, light energy harvesting in photosynthesis as well as learning in neural networks.  Schulten also pioneered the use of computational modeling for the development of nanodevice sensors in biomedicine.

In his research Schulten incorporated quantum mechanical and classical mechanical theories into non-equilibrium statistical mechanical descriptions as well as into computer simulations.  Schulten was the first to demonstrate that parallel computers could be practically employed to solve the classical many-body problem in biomolecular modeling.

Besides his research in biological physics, Schulten has devoted much effort to the development of computational biology software.  Thousands of researchers worldwide use his group's software for molecular graphics (VMD) and modeling (NAMD), the latter jointly developed with colleague Laxmikant Kale. Presently his group is developing a new computational method called Molecular Dynamics Flexible Fitting  that assists cell biologists in solving the structures of very large macromolecular machines found in living cells.

Schulten holds a Diplom degree in physics from the University of Muenster, Germany, and a PhD in chemical physics from Harvard University. He was junior group leader at the Max-Planck-Institut for Biophysical Chemistry from 1974 to 1980, and professor of theoretical physics at the Technical University of Munich from 1980 to 1988, before joining UIUC in 1988.