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The Engagement team is an outward facing part of iPlant that serves as the interface between the Grand Challenge projects and the cyberinfrastucture developers.

Team Composition


Matthew Vaughn, Scientific lead

Karla Gendler, Project Manager


Tina Lee, Special Assistant
Tina Lee is a Special Assistant at the iPlant Collaborative, assisting with organizing iPlant events, such as the GC workshops and team meetings. With degrees in Biology and Anthropology, she knows just enough to be dangerous, and is thus helping produce The iPlant Leaflet (e-newsletter). Prior to working at iPlant, Tina was an aide to the Tucson City Council and an environmental consultant specializing in water resources and land use planning for the private and public sectors.

Mary Margaret Sprinkle, Special Assistant
Mary Margaret has degrees in Business Administration. Prior to working for iPlant, she was the project manager for an NSF-funded Science and Technology Center based at UC Berkeley. She is based at the University of Arizona. Mary Margaret provides administrative and budget support for the iPG2P engagement team.

Engagement Team Analysts

Adam Kubach
Adam has a BS in computer science and extensive experience in C++, Python, Java, OpenGL/scientific and geospatial visualization, multi-threaded programming, software architecture and design and SQL.

Zhenyuan (Jerry) Lu
Jerry received MS degrees in both Computer Science and Biochemistry. His scientific background is in scientific visualization, large-scale data integration, numeric simulation and rapid prototype development for biological applications. His computing experience is in Perl, Java; MySQL and Oracle databases.

Bernice Rogowitz
Bernice obtained her PhD in psychology from Columbia University and postdoctoral training in phychophysics at Harvard University. She is a fellow in the Society for Optics, Photonics and Imaging. She is currently based at TACC. Bernice has just joined iPlant and will contribute her expertise in human perception and data visualization in both the iPToL and iPG2P visualization working groups.

Liya Wang
Liya received his PhD in biophysics. His research experience includes algorithm development, protein NMR, image analysis, signal analysis, optimization and machine learning. He has computational expertise in MATLAB, PHP (MySQL), c/C++, JAVA, Python, Perl and R.

Floating Team members
Staff members at TACC and CSHL can be brought in on a shorter term basis as required. TACC members contribute high performance computing and software engineering expertise and CSHL staff contribute expertise in bioinformatics.

Engagement Team Role

The primary purpose of the Engagement Team is to translate the needs of the biologist to help guide the computer scientists in creating the appropriate cyberinfrastructure. This involves several components:

Requirements Analysis

Broadly stated, requirements analysis involves the identification of high level software and infrastructure deliverables that will address research and analysis needs. The deliverables and high-level requirements are documented by the Engagement Team. In collaboration with the core software needs analysis specialists, these are decomposed into logical components, dependencies, user personas, user stories etc. that will inform orderly development of the final software product. The process is bilateral and involves further iteration with the domain experts in the working groups as required.

Project Management and Coordination

Another key responsibility of the Engagement Team is to coordinate activities of the working groups, the Engagement Team, the Core Software group and other iPlant staff. This support consists of meeting and other administrative logistics, budgeting, staffing, planning, etc. The Engagement Team has a project manager who works with all stakeholders to assure that documentary requirements are met, that milestones and time-lines are mapped out, that progress is monitored and that necessary adjustments are made to ensure that the project succeeds.


Another facet of requirements analysis is to test ideas and generate proofs of concept that will facilitate early innovation and inform promising directions for further development. Although the scope of future prototypes will be limited, this engagement method will be employed in some cases to facilitate needs assessment prior to commitment of resources to core software development.

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