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Reynders: For the Love of Numbers


May 24, 1964. That’s what you get when you ask John Reynders his age. “No, really,” he protests as he tries to figure it out, “I’m good with numbers.”

He could always run the problem through a supercomputer. Reynders, newly appointed vice president of information systems at Celera Genomics, certainly has no shortage of tech toys to help him do the math. His job revolves around computational infrastructure — “soup to nuts” — and making sure the company is progressing. He says it’s a blend of “integrating computational requirements with questions we need to ask moving forward. … We’re trying to do things that are new, different, and have never been done before.”

New and different: it’s a state Reynders is used to. Before spending nine months at Sun Microsystems working on the software side of high-performance computing research, he was at Los Alamos for eight years. Reynders was in charge of a one-teraflop supercomputer there, which “at the time was the largest dedicated, unclassified supercomputer in the nation.” His work involved running strategic simulations and large-scale science applications.

Reynders left Los Alamos and headed to Sun, intrigued by the company’s blend of business and technology. But Sun wasn’t in his stars — after just six months there, he heard about this opportunity at Celera. Three months later he packed up and went to Rockville. The job is a better fit for his applied and computational math background than Sun, he says, because his new role is “taking applications and building a computer architecture.”

Despite the abbreviated stint at Sun, Reynders doesn’t envision the same phenomenon at Celera. “If I were to pick my dream job,” says the native New Yorker, “this would be it.” Lucky he found it at age 36. Or is that 37?

— Meredith Salisbury

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