• PRACE Ada Lovelace Award

  • Launched in 2016 the PRACE Ada Lovelace Award is annually awarded to a female scientist making an outstanding contribution and impact on HPC in Europe and the world, and serves as a role model for women who are at the start of their scientific careers. The awardee is announced at the annual PRACE Scientific and Industrial Conference (PRACEdays) and is invited to participate in the concluding plenary Panel Session. The award is in memory of the English mathematician and writer Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852). Her contribution to the work of Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer is often regarded as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine.


    In 2019 Dr Debora Sijacki, Reader in Astrophysics and Cosmology at the Institute of Astronomy and Kavli Institute for Cosmology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom was awarded for her outstanding contributions to and impact on HPC in Europe. As a computational cosmologist she has achieved numerous high-impact results in astrophysics based on numerical simulations on state-of-the-art supercomputers. She has developed several new numerical models and implemented them in massively parallel simulations. An interesting example for her impact in computational science is the highly successful Illustris galaxy formation model where she was one of the key developers during her postdoctoral Hubble fellowship at Harvard University. The main result of Illustris regards the fundamental role supermassive black holes play in shaping galaxy properties, based on seminal ideas she developed during her PhD studies at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany. Pleas see her video talk here:

    “Winning PRACE Ada Lovelace Award is not just an inspiration to me to always strive for the excellence in science, but is also a powerful message to many young women how HPC can help build successful careers.”
    Debora Sijacki


    In 2018 Prof. Dr. Xiaoxiang Zhu of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany was awarded for her outstanding contributions and impact on HPC in Europe. She and her team (SiPEO) develop explorative algorithms to improve information retrieval from remote sensing data, particularly those from the current and next-generation of Earth observation missions. The outstanding achievement of her research is to use satellite imagery and supercomputing to predict risks of structural degradation and damage to urban buildings. After the award ceremony at PRACEdays18, Xiaoxiang Zhu gave a video interview, which can be viewed here.

    “I am delighted to take the responsibility of speaking out for women working in the field of HPC and other STEM fields. To have this kind of award is a very good idea. Specifically, in the field of HPC I think a good next step would be to encourage more women to become principal investigators or even to lead some of the Centres of Excellence.”
    Xiaoxiang Zhu


    In 2017, Prof Dr Frauke Gräter of the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) and the University of Heidelberg in Germany received the award for her work on the impact of mechanical force in the inner working of the living organism. In the field of computational biophysics she achieved outstanding results. One of her major accomplishments is the deciphering of mechano-sensitive mechanisms in blood coagulation. The Biophysical Society’s Committee for Professional Opportunities for Women (CPOW) included her in their list of internationally outstanding biophysicists. The PRACE Digest 2016includes an interesting article about Frauke Gräter’s research. At PRACEdays17 she gave an interview related to the award, the video recording of which can be found here.

    “It is the atomistic structure on the nanometer scale that defines nacre’s amazing properties and taking these details into account makes our simulations computationally so demanding.”
    Frauke Gräter


    Dr Zoe Cournia, Assistant Professor at the Biomedical Research Foundation, Academy of Athens (BRFAA) in Greece, was the recipient of the first PRACE Ada Lovelace Award in 2016. She and her team’s research focused on computer-aided drug design techniques for targeting the mutated cancerous PI3Kα protein with small molecule inhibitors, and for the inhibition of the c-Myc-Max interaction and the Arp2/3 protein complex using small molecules. The results of this research were featured in the PRACE Digest 2015. The interview with Zoe Cournia recorded at PRACEdays16 can be viewed here.

    “Using the PRACE HPC resources and recent advances in computer-aided drug design allow us to develop drugs specifically designed for a given protein, shortening the time for development of new drugs. I believe that our work is a good example of how computers help develop candidate drugs that have the potential to save millions of lives worldwide. I am honoured to receive this prestigious award and hope that this serves as inspiration to other female researchers in the field.”
    Zoe Cournia

    In an effort to promote diversity and inclusivity, PRACE applied and was accepted to be an Affiliate Member of Women in HPC. This productive and ground-breaking partnership began in 2014 and continues today. In 2015 PRACE published a special PRACE Digest featuring the achievements and contributions of female researchers in HPC. A special PRACE Women in HPC Magazine was also published in 2015.

    On 9 October 2018 is Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Founded in 2009 by Suw Charman-Anderson, it is now held every year on the second Tuesday of October.