Punita Sinha Embraces New Opportunities
There’s no doubt that Punita Sinha feels she has made the right career choice. The computer scientist—who is also part of a dual-career couple at LLNL and mother to three grown children—says that she really looks forward to work every morning. In the 15 years that she has been at LLNL, her work has involved everything from scientific data management to National Ignition Facility supervisory control systems to leading projects for Center for Applied Scientific Computing research applications to her current job, leading the B Physics Simulations group in the Applications, Simulations, and Quality Division.
“I manage a team full of brilliant people who are making very important technical contributions,” Punita said. “I enjoy the role of group leader; it’s rewarding to watch employees grow and succeed in their careers.” Punita works with several code teams that develop multiphysics, massively parallel high-performance computing codes. The computer scientists build the core infrastructures in these codes. Over the years, Punita has made technical contributions to four separate codes, improving parsing and user interfaces; restructuring, modularizing, and integrating library pieces; and providing translation and improved testing tools.
A self-described “analytic child,” Punita grew up with a physicist father and gravitated toward the hard sciences in college. She earned a B.S. in physics, chemistry, and mathematics and then an M.S. in computer science. She worked in industry (at IBM for more than a decade) as software developer and technical leader, as well as in business development and technical consulting.
Since joining LLNL in 1998, Punita has come to appreciate the Laboratory’s “more egalitarian” working environments. “People generally don’t have airs just because they have a title. There’s also a sense of a family, which comes about because of career longevity,” she said. “Working here, you get a sense that you’re part of the bigger picture. The economy, the government, and the international state of affairs affect our work. We’re an element of the larger ethos, not just an isolated company with a profitmaking goal.”
Being an active member of her community is a big part of what drives and motivates Punita. She has served as a past chair of LLNL’s Software Improvement Networking Group steering committee, chair of the institution’s Asian Pacific American Council, and she is currently the vice president of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Women’s Association. Outside of work, Punita is active in the Tri-Valley Interfaith Interconnect Group, which tries to bring understanding and solidarity between different faiths. She’s also involved in several yoga and meditation groups and enjoys national and international traveling with family.
Her travel philosophy is much like her work philosophy—embracing spontaneity and new opportunities. “We avoid organized tours and prefer roughing it and planning day by day,” she said. “We have the most fun when we’re together as a family.”
I work with and manage a team of computer scientists who work in software development on large multi-physics codes. These codes model real-world physical phenomenon with sets of mathematical equations. Simulation software allows us to mimic an experiment, the way animation simulates real-world situations or characters in a movie. Since these problems can take days, weeks, or months to run, we speed them up by running pieces in parallel on hundreds of thousands of computer processors—think of your iPhone as a single processor. What is exciting is that we work with state-of-the-art supercomputers, such as Sequoia.
Outside of work, I enjoy gardening, interior decoration, and crafts.