Elizabeth-Leake-2013Elizabeth Leake is an external relations specialist and storyteller.

She led a nationally-distributed team of 18 science and technology communicators as the U.S. National Science Foundation TeraGrid project’s external relations coordinator. Her engagement with the global cyberinfrastructure community began when she served as a point facilitator for the DEISA/PRACE and TeraGrid/XSEDE HPC Summer Schools in Catania, Italy and South Lake Tahoe, California-U.S. An interest in high-throughput, cloud-enabled and VM technologies was ignited when she corresponded for U.S. Open Science Grid All Hands meetings and European Grid Infrastructure (EGEE/EGI) Community Forums.

Many of Leake’s EGI stories were featured by International Science Grid This Week (iSGTW/ScienceNode), and CERN’s GridCast. As a frequent contributor to HPCwire, she now chronicles the activities of the South African Center for HPC, Square Kilometer Array Project and Southern African Development Community (SADC) HPC Forum.

Leake is Vice President of the Association of Computing Machinery Special Interest Group for HPC in Resource Constrained Environments (SIGHPC-RCE), and adviser to Sustainable Horizons Institute. She was program chair of the Southeast Wisconsin HPC Consortium’s (SeWHiP) Data Symposium 2012, participated on Supercomputing Conference (SC) Communications, Doctoral Showcase and Mentor-Protégé committees and was Deputy Chair of the SC14 Broader Engagement Program. She was invited to participate on the “Careers in Cyberinfrastructure” panel at the Advancing Research Computing on Campuses (ARCC’16) conference sponsored by the U.S. National Center for Supercomputing Applications where her presentation was titled “How to Recruit & Retain Gen-Y Unicorns.”

She founded STEM-Trek, a global, grassroots nonprofit organization that supports travel, mentoring and professional development opportunities for science, technology, engineering and mathematics scholars from underrepresented groups and regions. Through its NGO platform, Leake is an industry voice and advocate for HPC-curious scholars everywhere.

STEM-Trek Beginnings


2012 Friendraising event: “Building Community”

Leake and others from the HPC community founded STEM-Trek in 2011-12 when federal travel budgets had been cut in response to a case of abuse by a U.S. government agency. As the global economy suffered, a similar travel ban was issued in many European countries along with widespread austerity measures. Travel was doomed to be considered a luxury, and few considered how the decisions would impact STEM education programs, science diplomacy and international research collaborations.

At the campus level, cuts were often inequitable. While senior personnel could justify conferencing, fewer opportunities for students or early-career professionals were supported. Consequently, they miss the opportunity to present their work, train in the use of advanced technology, learn new methodologies, and expand their professional networks. The founders worried the situation would impede workforce development. Fewer multinational collaborations might be formed, international trust could erode and conference education program neutrality would suffer if a larger percentage is sponsored by commercial enterprises.