May 19, 2021
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DSI virtual seminar series debuts on YouTube

Holly Auten/LLNL

Since launching in 2018, the DSI has hosted more than three dozen speakers in its seminar series. These events invite researchers from academia, industry, and other institutions to discuss their work for an hour to an LLNL audience. In 2020, the series transitioned to a virtual format, and a video playlist of recently recorded seminars is available on the Livermore Lab Events YouTube channel.

Continuing the series virtually was an important decision. “With the pandemic, our professional world has become smaller, especially with scientific and academic communities outside the Lab,” explains Kathleen Schmidt, technical coordinator for the seminars since 2019. “Time zone conflicts, pre-recorded talks, and other practical aspects can make the sharing of ideas and deep discussion more challenging.”

Schmidt points out that the virtual format still gives LLNL’s data science community a window to the state-of-the-art work being conducted both internally and externally, introducing the audience to new ideas and promoting discussion. “Through video conferencing and now recordings of these seminars, we’ve been able to reach students and new staff, some of whom have never been onsite,” she states.

Katie speaks to the camera from her home office
Seminar series technical coordinator Kathleen Schmidt introduces the virtual events.

On average, attendance at the DSI’s virtual seminars has been higher than the previous in-person talks. “It’s not unusual for us to have a virtual seminar with over 100 people signing in to listen and watch,” says Schmidt.

DSI administrator Jennifer Bellig adds, “Professors and industry leaders from all over the U.S. have been excited to present a virtual seminar because it gives them more visibility and a farther audience reach.”

Schmidt, a statistician in LLNL’s Computational Engineering Division, particularly enjoys the Q&A period that concludes each seminar. She states, “Even if the topic outside of my area of expertise, someone in the audience is always asking a great technical question.” Moreover, she continues, “Seminar-inspired collaborations are a tangible measure of success in encouraging research, innovation, and new ideas at the Lab.”

As of this writing, two seminars—featuring guests from the RAND Corporation and Virginia Tech—are posted to the new YouTube playlist. Other recorded seminars will be added soon on topics such as data sketching, deep symbolic regression, and deep neural networks from first principles. Seminars scheduled for late spring and early summer will focus on artificial intelligence in healthcare and variational Bayesian methods. To learn more about the DSI’s seminar series or to become a seminar speaker, contact datascience [at] llnl.gov.