Michael E. Papka

Michael E. Papka

Division Director


Argonne National Laboratory
9700 S. Cass Avenue
Building 240 - Rm. 4134
Lemont, IL 60439

Michael E. Papka is a senior scientist and member of the senior leadership team at Argonne National Laboratory. In the role of deputy associate laboratory director for Computing, Environment and Life Sciences (CELS), Papka supports programmatic efforts associated with much of the computing research that happens at Argonne, working in collaboration with the CELS ALD and the laboratory’s four computing divisions. As the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility director, he provides strategic direction and management of a facility designed to enable researchers to pursue world-class computational science campaigns, and to maximize their individual contributions to science, engineering, and Argonne’s mission. He is also a senior scientist at-large at the University of Chicago’s Consortium for Advanced Science and Engineering.

Papka has more than 25 years of scientific and professional experience working with collaborators in the domain sciences, providing innovative technical approaches and expertise to investigate large data from simulation and experimental sources. His research interests include data analysis and visualization within the context of high-performance computing (HPC) and the development and deployment of research infrastructure in support of science. Papka’s research career has focused on finding ways to make computing more accessible to scientists. From experimenting with display and collaboration technologies as a member of Argonne’s Futures Lab to applying computation techniques to glean faster and more detailed insights from data to probing computation systems themselves—his work aims to bring the benefits of computation to scientists in a way they find useful and productive. Most recently, he has been working on efforts to simplify access to computational resources, creating a stronger, more interactive engagement between the user and the machine. This work is being realized through collaborations with Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source and through efforts like the NSF-funded Sage project.

Papka has been developing and implementing STEM and STEAM instructional strategies and programs at Argonne for more than two decades and participates as both a developer and instructor of K-12 coding and computational thinking activities. He helped to establish Argonne’s summer coding camps for high school students, participates in annual Hour of Code activities, and founded a local elementary after-school tech club in 2014 that he still participates in today. Papka also contributes to the annual Argonne Training Program on Extreme-Scale Computing, which aims to train the next generation of computational scientists on next-generation systems and techniques needed for scientific computing. Papka also mentors high school, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers on a wide range of topics in data analytics, data science, and HPC both at Argonne and beyond.

Papka is a Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professor at Northern Illinois University, where he teaches foundational concepts of computer science and advanced topics in data analytics and data science, and oversees NIU’s Data, Devices, and Interaction Laboratory. The ddiLab is a joint research lab between the School of Art and the Department of Computer Science that Papka founded and currently co-directs with longtime collaborator and ALCF visualization team lead, Joe Insley.

Papka’s credentials include a B.S. in physics, an M.S. in electrical engineering and computer science, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science. He sits on Loyola University Chicago’s Computer Science Program Advisory Committee and the Advisory Board of the Institute for Applied Computational Science at Harvard University. He has authored over 150 peer-reviewed publications, been an ACM Gordon Bell Finalist (Honorable Mention), received several Best Paper Awards and IEEE Certificates of Appreciation, and won an R&D100 award. Most recently, Papka was among the recipients of the 2020 Secretary of Energy’s Honor Awards for his efforts to mobilize supercomputing resources in support of COVID-19 research.