Public Release: 

Clemson receives $5.3M from NSF to broaden cyberinfrastructure education, outreach

Clemson University

CLEMSON, S.C. -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Clemson University a $5.3 million grant to enable a national network of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Research and Education Facilitators (ACI-REFs) to broaden the impact of advanced computing resources at campuses across the country.

Led by Clemson Chief Information Officer Jim Bottum as principal investigator, Barr von Oehsen will serve as the science and outreach lead, Jim Pepin will act as the technical integration lead, and Simon Appleford and Dustin Atkins will also serve on the project team at Clemson. The project's collaborating institutions include the University of Hawaii, the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Wisconsin and Harvard University.

The project, called the Advanced Cyberinfrastructure-Research and Educational Facilitation: Campus-Based Computational Research Support, is a consortium that brings together education and research institutions that are committed to the vision of advancing scientific discovery through a national network of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ACI) Research and Education Facilitators (ACI-REFs).

Working together in a coordinated effort, the consortium is dedicated to the adoption of models and strategies to leverage the expertise and experiences of its members to maximize the impact of investment in research computing. Located on the campuses and fully embedded in their local environment, the mission of the ACI-REFs will be to extend the reach and impact of campus and national research computing infrastructure on the science conducted by students and faculty.

"With universities facing a growing data tsunami in virtually all disciplines, we've realized that now is the time to build a more cloud-like research infrastructure and support model across campuses to help faculty and students meet their data challenges," Bottum said. "We appreciate NSF's investment in our collaborative effort to prototype a new model to further enable faculty and students to accomplish their research goals in this challenging environment."

"The University of Hawaii is delighted to be working with Clemson and our other partners to develop this innovative consortium," said David Lassner, the interim president of the University of Hawaii. "Data-intensive science and engineering is a major thrust for innovation in Hawaii, and the ACI-REF capability that will be supported is exactly what we need to help many of our gifted faculty and students take their scholarship to the next level by leveraging local and national cyberinfrastructure and collaborations."

The consortium is forging a nationwide alliance of educators to empower local campus researchers to be more effective users of advanced cyberinfrastructure. In particular, the project seeks to work with the "long tail" of ACI users: those scholars and faculty members who traditionally have not benefitted from the power of massively scaled cluster computing, but who recognize that their research requires access to more compute power than can be provided by their desktop machines.

James Cuff, assistant dean for research computing at Harvard, said of the project: "For over seven years, Harvard has established an effective condominium computing model that has provided our faculty and researchers with a scalable environment capable of meeting a vast array of computational needs. The consortium and addition of ACI-REFs are a core component of Harvard's next-generation research-computing strategy and will enable further academic excellence at both local and national levels."

Steve Wolff, chief technology officer for Internet2, said, "This award to Clemson University and its prestigious partner universities across the nation recognizes the rich heritage of research and higher education that has produced technology innovations and breakthrough discoveries that benefit people everywhere. Internet2 member institutions are excited to leverage Clemson's new award with the Internet2 Innovation Platform and 100G infrastructure to produce new discoveries and help educate the next generation of researchers."

In addition to the project team led by Bottum, the project's steering committee includes Glenn Ricart, chief technology officer of the US Ignite Project; Greg Monaco, director for research and cyberinfrastructure initiatives at the Great Plains Network; and John Towns, the principal investigator of the NSF-funded XSEDE program. Miron Livny, professor of computer sciences at the University of Wisconsin and principal investigator of the NSF-funded Open Science Grid will also serve on the project's steering committee and serve as the chief scientist for the project.


Clemson University

Ranked No. 21 among national public universities, Clemson University is a major, land-grant, science- and engineering-oriented research university that maintains a strong commitment to teaching and student success. Clemson is an inclusive, student-centered community characterized by high academic standards, a culture of collaboration, school spirit and a competitive drive to excel.

This material is based upon work supported by the NSF under Grant No. 1341935. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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