CENIC Recognizes İlkay Altıntaş of UC San Diego and San Diego Supercomputer Center for Groundbreaking Contributions to Data Science

CENIC Announces Recipient of 2024 Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award

LA MIRADA, Calif. & SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#digitalfiberUC San Diego’s İlkay Altıntaş, Chief Data Science Officer of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and Founding Fellow of the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, has been selected to receive CENIC’s 2024 Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her visionary and foundational contributions to the field of data science, a domain that has become an indispensable pillar in a multitude of research areas today and promises to be even more so in the future. The CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards recognize exemplary people, projects, and organizations that leverage high-bandwidth networking.

Altıntaş’s role at UC San Diego and the SDSC has paved the way for numerous groundbreaking achievements. Her instrumental work as a Founding Fellow, the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, the Workflows for Data Science (WorDS) Center of Excellence, and the WIFIRE Lab has not only set new benchmarks in data science but has also profoundly impacted many lives, especially through the WIFIRE Lab’s advancements in wildfire management.

“The breadth and depth of her contributions are extraordinary, demonstrating that her work is foundational in every aspect and forms the core of significant advancements in the field,” stated Louis Fox, CENIC’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are deeply impressed by the scope of her impact in data science, which goes far beyond the achievements listed here. It’s a true testament to her dedication and innovative spirit.”

A cursory glance at Altıntaş’s publications demonstrates the broad applicability of the work she does, touching on topics relating to wildfire management but also including equitable open data access, virtual reality applications, workflow analysis and optimization, and “space weather,” defined as conditions around the Sun and interplanetary space that may affect space- and ground-based assets as well as human life. Examples of such conditions include magnetic storms on the Sun’s surface, which can eject enormous plumes of superheated plasma that if aimed at the Earth, can cause widespread electrical and power blackouts and disruptions.

In addition to these topics, Altıntaş has also had a significant impact in data science instruction as a popular massively open online course (MOOC) instructor whose classes have reached more than a million learners across the globe. Her tireless efforts in not only her own research but also in ensuring the sustainability of the research process itself demonstrate her incredible value to the research and education community and to the safety and stability of the global population which benefits from research into topics that impact us all.

Established in 2018, the CENIC Distinguished Service Award recognizes extraordinary individual service to the CENIC community and its partners and is named in honor of Dr. Christine Haska (1951-2017). Dr. Haska was a treasured member of the CENIC community, and led a life dedicated to bettering our world. She had a long career in higher education and in 2002 joined the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California, where she served as the Vice President of Information Resources and as the Chief Information Officer. She played a vital role in establishing both NPS and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center as CENIC members. Retiring from NPS in 2013, Dr. Haska went on to successfully lead an initiative to connect the major health care institutions in Monterey to the CENIC network.

Dr. Haska was well known by her family, colleagues, and friends as an exuberant personality with boundless energy and wide-ranging interests. She brought foresight, grace, and an innovative spirit to all her work, and remains an inspiration to colleagues working in research and education institutions across the nation.


Lee Ann Weber
Associate VP of Communications, CENIC

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