Computer modeling is a powerful tool for scientific inquiry when experiments are too costly, too dangerous, or simply impossible. In this talk we will describe how to build a computer model of a human heart, starting from an individual cell and then using data from an actual person to create a realistic representation of a beating heart. We will discuss some of the tricks and techniques we use to combine the power of Sequoia's 1.6 million CPUs providing examples of how doctors and researchers may soon be able to use such simulations to investigate the effects of new drugs on cardiac rhythms or improve the success rate of complex surgical procedures.

Student Lecture Notes

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Speaker Bios

Dr. David Richards

David Richards is a computational physicist in the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  He currently leads a team that is working with scientists at IBM to develop new models and methods for simulating the human heart using powerful supercomputers, such as Sequoia at LLNL.  Dr. Richards is also involved in research to help plan how computer modeling and simulation will take advantage of even more powerful computers in the future.  Dr. Richards received B.S. in Physics from Harvey Mudd College in 1992 and his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999.

Erin McKay

Erin M. McKay is a Biology teacher at Tracy High School in Tracy, CA. She received her BS in Biology with an emphasis in Plant biology in 2001 and her Science teaching credential in 2002 from University of California Davis.  While attending UC Davis she interned at a small startup, AgraQuest, in their microbiology department. After finishing her education, she began teaching at Tracy high in 2002, and began participating in Lawrence Livermore National Lab's Teacher Research Academy. As of the summer of 2011, she and three other west coast teachers began collaborating with Rutgers University's Waksman Institute's student scholar program.  This program trains teachers and students how to do genuine Molecular Biology research in the classroom.  In the summer of 2012, Erin helped organize and instruct the student scholar program at Lawrence Livermore Lab's Teacher Research Academy.