Meet Todd Anderson, ESnet’s New Director of Systems & Software

Todd Anderson may be new to his role as thTodd Croppede Energy Sciences Network’s (ESnet) Director of Systems and Software Engineering, but he’s already made history.

Anderson is the first ESnet staff member to be hired and onboarded completely virtually. And because of the Bay Area’s extended shelter-in-place order, he will be spending his first months on the job managing his team remotely from home in Lafayette, California.

Before coming to ESnet, he spent 20 years working at the executive level of a technology company that provided software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions to financial institutions, including services in account identity risk management, fraud prevention, and digital payments, specifically the Zelle payment platform.

“It was a good gig. We were preventing fraud, but at the end of the day, our mission was to help big banks optimize their bottom line,” said Anderson. “I have an engineering background and I wanted to do something a little more meaningful. So, I looked for organizations around the Bay Area working in the fields of sustainability, cleantech, and renewable energy. That’s when I saw this opportunity at ESnet.”

At ESnet, he gets to apply his experience to manage the teams that develop and deploy tools to allow scientific users to optimize their use of the network.

“It’s really exciting to hear about the science projects I will be supporting as a member of the ESnet staff,” said Anderson. “And ESnet is doing its own networking research, too. It’s cool to be on a conference call and hear people talking about quantum networking and 5G.”

As a child during the space race, Anderson remembers watching the Apollo and space shuttle missions. That experience inspired him to major in mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, so he could one day build spacecraft for NASA. But after graduation, life took a different turn. Following in the footsteps of a friend he admired, he joined the Peace Corps and spent two years teaching math and science to middle school children in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert.

“Service really makes you feel like you are doing something worthwhile and making the world a better place,” said Anderson.

When he returned to the United States, a friend asked him to help write a software application to detect merchant credit card fraud. This move kicked-off of his 30-year career in technology.

In his free time, Anderson enjoys doing things around the house. When the world isn’t in the midst of a pandemic, he likes to be out in nature and to sample the diverse culture and geography of the Bay Area with his family.

Written by Linda Vu

ESnet Builds Morale and Community With a Zoom Competition

Nearly two months into California’s shelter-in-place order, we’ve all been in more than our fair share of video conferences. To boost morale during this difficult time, the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) staff held a Zoom Background Competition during their all-to-all meeting on Monday, April 27. 

Staff were encouraged to create their own backgrounds and display them during the meeting. There were 21 entries. ESnet employees voted. Submissions were judged on overall artistry, functionality (not too distracting as a background), whether it elevated the voter’s mood, and if it made them feel included in the ESnet community. 

The top three winners got bragging rights. Here they are:

First place: Jeff Berman, NOC Engineer

This Zoom challenge inspired Berman, an avid sailoJeffrey Bermanr, to take to the sea. He won this competition with an hour video of the San Francisco skyline, one he filmed while sailing on the Bay. Although he typically likes to go sailing with friends and family, he says that sailing solo brings him a sense of peace, calm, and tranquility.  

“What is sailing? Most books define it as hours of sheer boredom scattered with white knuckle periods of terror. On a good day, both are true. Both give you an equal sense of accomplishment. How to be with yourself with nothing to do, good training for our current situation,” said Berman.

Second Place: Sartaj Baveja, Software Engineer

This challenge inspired Baveja to create a background meme of office life. In the background, someone (Baveja) is looking over your shoulder to catch a glimpse of your screen and make sure you don’t procrastinate.

Sartaj Baveja

Third Place: Joe Metzger, Network Engineer

Joe_interviewThis challenge inspired Metzger to use a picture that he took in Barcelona. The focal point of the picture (the blur) is a little girl in a red coat, black dress and white tights who was just running back and forth between the pools of light and shadow created by the stone arches and rosette windows, while her family was sitting in the cafe. 

“I used this as my zoom background because I think it is a really cool picture. It brings to mind a fun evening strolling around the little squares and back streets in Barcelona and sitting in cafes with a good glass of wine relaxing,” said Metzger.

Girl in Red

Written by Linda Vu, Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences.