João Paulo and Ricardo Macedo (HASLab), Bruno Santos (SAL) – INESC TEC Services

João Paulo and Ricardo Macedo (HASLab)

“The HASLab coordinators would like to nominate João Paulo and Ricardo Macedo, due to their important contribution to the field of storage, together with their respective teams of master’s degree students. Their work enabled the establishment and strengthening of several partnerships with major international entities in this area, like UT Austin, TACC and Hood College (U.S.A.), and AIST, in Japan. The team’s high level of commitment and excellence led to the publication of many scientific papers – co-authored by said institutions – at top international conferences, while contributing to the success of several R&D projects via the UT Austin Portugal programme, e.g., PASTor and BigHPC, thus achieving significant achievement and international recognition”.

– HASLab coordinators

Since your work focuses mainly on the storage area, which are the main achievements you’d like to highlight?

The work we’ve been carrying out lately aims to ensure that scientists who use supercomputers can develop their scientific studies more quickly and accurately, in areas like medicine, natural science, climate change, etc.

One of the main challenges is the access of the projects’ teams to a significant volume of digital data (e.g., geonomic and geological data). Currently, the main constraint is the fact that supercomputers are used to carry out hundreds or thousands of projects simultaneously, competing for the access to shared storage resources to save data.

The PAIO systems, published at the USENIX FAST’22 international conference, provides the necessary mechanisms to ensure that all processes taking place at the same time can access data. This aspect is quite important to make sure that one team does not get their results after a few minutes/hours while the other teams is forced to wait for several days or weeks – especially if both teams are working on projects with a similar volume.

The Monarch system, published at the international conference IEEE/ACM CC Grid’22, presents storage optimisations designed to train Artificial Intelligence models – used, for instance, to predict the spreading of diseases like COVID-19 – much faster, in many cases reducing by half the amount of time required for the process.

How do you rate the collaboration with international teams, namely those at UT Austin, TACC and AIST?

The partnerships with UT Austin, TACC, AIST, and the Hood College (U.S.A.) play a key role in the development of our work, for many reasons. More specifically, they allow us to discuss the main issues in terms of data storage – caused by different types of supercomputers’ applications – with several experts. Moreover, they’re a great opportunity to validate our solutions at top infrastructures, thus presenting their actual impact and potential.

In this sense, we’d like to thank Amit Ruhela, Jason Haga, Peter Cui, Stephen Harrell, Todd Evans, Vijay Chidambaram, Weijia Xu, Xinlian Liu, and Yusuke Tanimura for their collaboration.

Which are the main challenges in the field of storage? And how did you overcome them?

Since the challenges we address are significantly relevant, there are many important teams of researchers from the U.S.A., Europe and Asia dedicated to similar questions. On the one hand, this competition is positive since it requires further efforts and to think outside the box. On the other hand, there’s pressure to be the first to achieve an innovative solution, with the risk of losing topicality and decrease the chances of publishing at top international conferences.

As to logistics, it’s hard to coordinate regular meetings with people from three different time zones: Portugal, the U.S.A., and Japan.

What can we expect from the efforts dedicated to the research in storage?

Our main goal is to keep designing and developing faster and more reliable storage systems. In our opinion, this is the only way to benefit from the digital data available today, whose value will only increase if people can use and analyse them efficiently and easily.

This path will also make sure that INESC TEC is acknowledged for its international excellence in terms of storage systems research. In this sense, it’s important to keep exploring tough challenges and good ideas, while encouraging the publication of results in journals and conferences recognised by the international community.

How do you comment on this nomination?

We’re proud to know that INESC TEC values our work. It means that we remain well on track, and that our team’s research endeavours over the past few years are paying off.

It’s also important to emphasise that our achievements are not strictly associated with the two systems mentioned before, and that our research activities would not be possible without the support of a great team of INESC TEC researchers: Alberto Faria, Cláudia Brito, Cláudia Correia, Diogo Leitão, Marco Dantas, Mariana Miranda, José Pereira, and Tânia Esteves. Thank you for your work and contribution.

Bruno Santos (SAL)

“The Technology Licensing Office (SAL) would like to nominate Bruno Santos, following his leadership, as tech manager of the AgroFood area, of the SpecTOM and SmartTrap proposals, winners of the 2021 Crédito Agrícola Entrepreneurship and Innovation award. This achievement is another example of Bruno’s top-quality work, which was also acknowledged last year with the prestigious international fellowship ‘LifeArc-AUTM technology transfer career training fellowship’, designed to recognise and support professionals during their transition to the technology transfer area. It’s important to highlight Bruno’s successful management of the demanding process of data collection, both inside and outside INESC TEC, as well as his work in the establishment of synergies between the technological, business and intellectual property dimensions towards social impact through innovation – which shows SAL’s support to other members of the INESC TEC community”.

– SAL coordinators

The SpecTOM and SmartTrap proposals won the Crédito Agrícola Entrepreneurship and Innovation award. How do you comment on this acknowledgment? Is it a good recognition of the work carried out at SAL?

The attribution of the Agro-Industry 4.0 Innovation and ANI’s Born From Knowledge awards to SpecTom and SmartTrap, respectively, is important to validate our technologies and receive feedback from well-established companies that know the needs of final users. Moreover, the awards improve the position of INESC TEC research in the Agro-Food and Forestry sectors.

Which were the main challenges within the scope of the proposals? And how did you overcome them?

The main challenge in terms of leadership was the collection of data crucial to sustain the validity and relevance of applying a technology to address a particular problem. I had to study the theme at hand, understand how the issue we aimed to address aligned with the EU’s development goals, and to analyse the market in which we aim to operate. The involvement of the research team in this process was quite important.

Which aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

The thing I appreciate the most in technology transfer is witnessing the social impact of said process. However, making sure that the knowledge is transferred correctly, that people can benefit the most from the results’ potential, and that tech companies are the ideal partners to transform science-based knowledge into products that add value to consumers, is a great responsibility.

How do you comment on this nomination?

Knowing that our researchers’ efforts are acknowledged, and that the Agro-Food experts and community granted their seal of quality makes me very proud. It shows that we’re on the right path, presenting solutions to actual problems, which will have a major impact on the industry and provide clear benefits to society.

INESC TEC Services

Nominated by José Carlos Caldeira, Member of INESC TEC’s Board of Directors

The BIP has already featured the figures on INESC TEC’s participation in the applications for the Agendas of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR), together with the results of the first evaluation phase: we participated in more than 60 applications, of which 26 advanced to the second phase, corresponding to a budget of around €55M for the institution.

Behind these figures – and the success they represent – there was a significant and crucial management and coordination work, carried out by various INESC TEC services that support their researchers in the development of high-quality proposals and projects, ensuring that these efforts meet the institution’s strategy and values, effectively and efficiently. Here are some of the duties performed:

  • Identification of opportunities and project definition.
  • Identification of relevant scientific and technological knowledge domains and mobilisation of the respective centres and researchers.
  • Coordination of efforts and integration of contributions.
  • Dissemination of information and good practices.
  • Harmonisation of methodologies, rules, conditions, and approaches.
  • Production of all necessary information and supporting documentation.
  • Identification and resolution of overlaps, duplications, conflicts of interest, etc., at both internal and external levels.
  • Maximising the potential and probability of exploiting project results.
  • Synergies and complementarities, both internally and externally, namely with other projects and applications.
  • Monitoring and reporting of process dynamics.

This list clearly shows the importance of the coordination between the different services involved, as well as between them and the centres.

During this preparatory period before the second phase, which is running until the March 31, it will be necessary to strengthen this collaborative work even further. Although there are fewer applications, the level of detail and accountability increased significantly, as we move from the project’s idea to the project’s design stage – and, considering the available budget, competition will be much fiercer.

Availability, understanding, and mutual support are key aspects in dealing with this challenge.

And our researchers should really become aware of the importance of services – how they support them, and how they could help them, namely by “relieving” them of tasks often perceived as “boring”, and how this contributes to the success and sustainability of the institution.

Did everything go as planned? No. Can we improve certain things? Of course. However, this must not and cannot stop us from acknowledging that we really have INCREDIBLE Services.

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