Off the Beaten Career Path, Damian Rouson


The career options available to researchers extend well beyond research. Many professionals who study computational science, for example, go on to successful and satisfying careers science, consulting, software engineering, teaching, management, real estate and finance. Although it can seem that these paths diverge, it can also be possible to traverse several of these avenues at once or to alternate between them. This affinity group will discuss the breadth of opportunities available to computer and computational scientists, the role that a computational science background can play along each trajectory, and the rewards one can expect to reap along with the pitfalls one is likely to encounter.

Short Biography:

Damian Rouson is the Group Lead for the Computer Languages and Systems Software (CLaSS) Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (“Berkeley Lab”). He is a mechanical engineer with experience spanning computational science, research software engineering, consulting, teaching and real estate investing. He leads the development of the OpenCoarrays and Caffeine open-source parallel runtime libraries. His work at Berkeley Lab includes researching ways to use machine learning to accelerate predictions of climate change’s regional impacts, teaching tutorials on the UPC++ parallel programming template library, and contributing Fortran 2018 parallel programming feature tests to the LLVM compiler test suite.

He co-authored the textbook Scientific Software Design: The Object-Oriented Way (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and has taught related university courses and tutorials on Fortran 2018 and agile software development. He is an alternate member of the Fortran standards committee. He has held staff and faculty positions at the City University of New York, the University of Maryland, the University of Cyprus, the University of Bergen, and Stanford University. He has held staff and leadership positions at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Berkeley Lab. He received a 2003-’04 NASA Summer Faculty Fellowship and a 2020-’21 Department of Energy Better Scientific Software Fellowship. He has been a (co-)principal investigator on research grants and software engineering contracts awarded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

He founded Archaeologic Inc. and Sourcery Institute. He holds a B.S. from Howard University and a M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, all in mechanical engineering. He is also a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) and has provided expert testimony in litigation related to building fires and automotive and aircraft accidents.


My professional experiences span a wide variety of career paths, some of which might seem less obvious or available or rewarding to those trained in computational science. I’d like to bring together people, engage with, and support the wanderers whose interests take them in many seemingly disparate directions.