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Applying Ethics to Supercomputing with Alumnus Matt Baughman

Introducing Matt Baughman, a Minerva graduate from the Class of 2019.

March 27, 2021

Matt spends most of his working day researching ways to reduce the cost and energy needed to use supercomputers and the cloud. His work aims to help democratize supercomputing so that researchers across different industries can utilize innovative technologies. In some ways, he is like a protector of the cloud but, more formally, he is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at the University of Chicago and a coordinator for the Computer Science Department’s summer research program.

Coming from a small town in the Midwest region of the United States, Matt was eager to attend Minerva for its exposure to new ideas, people, and places. Looking back, he is grateful to have made this decision as it brought him into a community that changed his mind — even more so than he anticipated — and provided an academic learning environment that exposed him to new avenues of research. At Minerva, Matt concentrated in both computer science and philosophy to approach his work in technology from an ethical perspective. He then utilized his learnings in class to seek opportunities in each city. For example, when he was in Berlin, Matt had the chance to work with Opinary, a local tech startup, to help them improve the way readers engage with online content. Then, during the summer before his third year, Matt interned at the Argonne National Laboratory where he developed an improved method of using genetic algorithms for neural networks in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute.

At the University of Chicago, Matt is currently pursuing a graduate degree with a focus of making supercomputing accessible and cost-effective for all. His work centers on redistributing the technological and intellectual monopolies that large tech companies have on the cloud, a space he feels can be used more efficiently to allow other scientists and researchers to get the most out of these resources. Currently, not all domains are able to benefit from supercomputing abilities, which allow for a wider range of complex computations and can significantly improve performance, because it is an expensive and scarce resource with limited access. And although he works in the field of computer science, his role fundamentally requires and is benefited from an interdisciplinary approach. This socially-focused, interdisciplinary take is rooted in his belief and desire to help expand opportunities and bring people with diverse backgrounds together, which he experienced himself at Minerva. “To be able to do these internships on continents all around the world and to be able to work in very different atmospheres with a variety of unique people, ranging a lot of disparate fields that you’d say wouldn’t normally fit together — it was incredible,” shares Matt.

Now at one of the top schools in the United States for his specific type of research, Matt utilizes the skills he gained at Minerva on a daily basis and sees their effects play out all around him. Drawing from his improved communication and problem-solving skills from living abroad with a global community for the past four years, Matt aims to better relate to and work with the diversity of his colleagues as he problem solves the next steps in his research.

While technology is ever-changing, Matt hopes his work will have a lasting effect on the ways that high-performance computing is accessible. Whether someone has vast financial support or should not hinder their ideas from becoming a computational reality. “At the end of the day, we all have something to learn from everyone else. For those of us who can, it is our job to enable the strengths of others by building systems and curating information that empowers fast, efficient, and informed decision making.”

If you were inspired by Matt’s story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.

Quick Facts

Name
Country
Class
Major

Social Sciences & Business

Business & Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Computational Sciences & Social Sciences

Computer Science & Arts and Humanities

Business and Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Arts and Humanities

Business, Social Sciences

Business & Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences, Natural Sciences

Data Science, Statistics

Computational Sciences

Business

Computational Sciences, Data Science

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Business, Natural Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Computational Sciences, Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Science

Social Sciences, Business

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Science

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Science, Statistic Natural Sciences

Business & Social Sciences

Computational Science, Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Business

Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Arts and Humanities

Computational Science

Minor

Computational Science & Business

Economics

Social Sciences

Concentration

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence & Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Designing Societies & New Ventures

Strategic Finance & Data Science and Statistics

Brand Management and Designing Societies

Data Science & Economics

Machine Learning

Cells, Organisms, Data Science, Statistics

Arts & Literature and Historical Forces

Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science

Cells and Organisms, Mind and Emotion

Economics, Physics

Managing Operational Complexity and Strategic Finance

Global Development Studies and Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Scalable Growth, Designing Societies

Business

Drug Discovery Research, Designing and Implementing Policies

Historical Forces, Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Artificial Intelligence, Psychology

Designing Solutions, Data Science and Statistics

Data Science and Statistic, Theoretical Foundations of Natural Science

Strategic Finance, Politics, Government, and Society

Data Analysis, Cognition

Brand Management

Data Science and Statistics & Economics

Cognitive Science & Economics

Data Science and Statistics and Contemporary Knowledge Discovery

Internship
Higia Technologies
Project Development and Marketing Analyst Intern at VIVITA, a Mistletoe company
Business Development Intern, DoSomething.org
Business Analyst, Clean Energy Associates (CEA)

Conversation

Matt spends most of his working day researching ways to reduce the cost and energy needed to use supercomputers and the cloud. His work aims to help democratize supercomputing so that researchers across different industries can utilize innovative technologies. In some ways, he is like a protector of the cloud but, more formally, he is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at the University of Chicago and a coordinator for the Computer Science Department’s summer research program.

Coming from a small town in the Midwest region of the United States, Matt was eager to attend Minerva for its exposure to new ideas, people, and places. Looking back, he is grateful to have made this decision as it brought him into a community that changed his mind — even more so than he anticipated — and provided an academic learning environment that exposed him to new avenues of research. At Minerva, Matt concentrated in both computer science and philosophy to approach his work in technology from an ethical perspective. He then utilized his learnings in class to seek opportunities in each city. For example, when he was in Berlin, Matt had the chance to work with Opinary, a local tech startup, to help them improve the way readers engage with online content. Then, during the summer before his third year, Matt interned at the Argonne National Laboratory where he developed an improved method of using genetic algorithms for neural networks in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute.

At the University of Chicago, Matt is currently pursuing a graduate degree with a focus of making supercomputing accessible and cost-effective for all. His work centers on redistributing the technological and intellectual monopolies that large tech companies have on the cloud, a space he feels can be used more efficiently to allow other scientists and researchers to get the most out of these resources. Currently, not all domains are able to benefit from supercomputing abilities, which allow for a wider range of complex computations and can significantly improve performance, because it is an expensive and scarce resource with limited access. And although he works in the field of computer science, his role fundamentally requires and is benefited from an interdisciplinary approach. This socially-focused, interdisciplinary take is rooted in his belief and desire to help expand opportunities and bring people with diverse backgrounds together, which he experienced himself at Minerva. “To be able to do these internships on continents all around the world and to be able to work in very different atmospheres with a variety of unique people, ranging a lot of disparate fields that you’d say wouldn’t normally fit together — it was incredible,” shares Matt.

Now at one of the top schools in the United States for his specific type of research, Matt utilizes the skills he gained at Minerva on a daily basis and sees their effects play out all around him. Drawing from his improved communication and problem-solving skills from living abroad with a global community for the past four years, Matt aims to better relate to and work with the diversity of his colleagues as he problem solves the next steps in his research.

While technology is ever-changing, Matt hopes his work will have a lasting effect on the ways that high-performance computing is accessible. Whether someone has vast financial support or should not hinder their ideas from becoming a computational reality. “At the end of the day, we all have something to learn from everyone else. For those of us who can, it is our job to enable the strengths of others by building systems and curating information that empowers fast, efficient, and informed decision making.”

If you were inspired by Matt’s story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.