Dr. Cherri M. Pancake is Professor Emeritus and Director of the Northwest Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering (NACSE), an interdisciplinary research center known for software systems that analyze large-scale scientific data to yield results that “make sense” to decision-makers. She is also president of the Association for Computing Machinery.
Dr. Pancake started her career as an ethnographer conducting fieldwork in Guatemalan Indian communities, where she applied cross-cultural techniques to study social change. After earning a PhD in Computer Engineering, she leveraged her ethnographic expertise to address problems in computing. She was among the first worldwide to use ethnographic techniques to improve software usability, an approach which is now standard in the field. She also conducted much of the seminal work identifying how the needs of scientists differ from computer scientists.
She then turned to studying how “virtual collaborations” – interactions that span large interdisciplinary and physically distributed communities – differ from those where collaborators are physically co-located. Under her guidance, NACSE developed processes and software tools to make remote collaboration and data sharing fit naturally into typical patterns of scientific research and practice. Over the past 15 years, she has served as PI or coPI on research grants totaling over $125 million, from diverse sources including industry, the National Science Foundation, and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, and Interior.
Dr. Pancake’s leadership has been instrumental in the creation of organizations — such as the Parallel Tools Consortium and the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation — that unite researchers, educators, and industry practitioners to expedite the rollover of research advances into education and practice. In 2012, she founded the ACM Special Interest Group on High Performance Computing (SIGHPC). Most recently, Dr. Pancake worked with Intel to establish the SIGHPC/Intel Computational & Data Science Fellowships, which to date have provided $15,000/year to 33 outstanding women and minority graduate students at universities in 8 countries. She is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.