|6 Dec 2016|
World Community Grid's technical lead not only relishes tackling all sorts of difficult challenges, he enjoys helping others do so as well. Meet Keith Uplinger in this article.
Whether he's coaching his children's sports teams, or helping scientists deploy a new sampling protocol on World Community Grid, Keith Uplinger is always up for a challenge, especially when it means helping others.
Keith grew up in a technology-oriented family in Austin, Texas, where his father worked for IBM. Always drawn to math and technology, Keith began programming while still in grade school. Once his family installed a dedicated internet connection, he became even more focused. "I was online almost 24/7, programming and researching computer components," he says.
He earned a bachelor's degree in computer science at Texas Tech University, and began interning for IBM during his sophomore year. From the beginning, his work focused on grid technology, which involves linking computer resources from multiple locations to reach a common goal. Upon graduation, he was hired full-time to work at World Community Grid, which had recently launched.
Since then, he has touched nearly all parts of World Community Grid's platform, including developing project screensavers, server management, running the testing environment, website development, and working closely with the BOINC group to help with the open source platform on which World Community Grid runs. "I've stayed with World Community Grid for the challenges," Keith says. "Many people work on a single product, but our scope is broader. Every few months we have a new project that needs to go out to large groups of people all over the world."
Keith is currently World Community Grid's technical lead. His latest work-related challenge is leading World Community Grid's work on asynchronous replica exchange, a new sampling protocol being developed by the research team for FightAIDS@Home - Phase 2. He explains, "When World Community Grid receives completed work units (research tasks) back from volunteers' devices, we don't send the results back to the researchers until the entire batch of work units is complete. This isn't always ideal for researchers like the Fight AIDS@Home team, who need to process their results more quickly. With asynchronous replica exchange, these researchers will get their data back more quickly, which will help them analyze their data more quickly."
"We have not done anything like this with our work units before. Asynchronous replica exchange has the potential to expand the scientific capabilities of World Community Grid," says Keith. "It not only helps the science, but also could be beneficial for the technology side of the other projects."
When he's not solving complex problems for World Community Grid, Keith's pastimes center around his family, which includes wife Erica and their two young children. He enjoys coaching his kids' soccer, basketball, football, and baseball teams. At a height of 6'4" (193 cm), he's a formidable basketball opponent and likes to play whenever he can. His family also enjoys traveling in the United States (by car whenever possible) and throughout the world. Recently, he and his wife participated in the Baatan Death Memorial March, a challenging hike through the New Mexico desert that honors the military personnel who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II.
To the many volunteers that he has served over the years, Keith says, "Thanks for your ongoing efforts to help find answers to science's toughest questions. I hope we can grow to millions of volunteers, and someday I'd like to see us cure cancer."