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Thanks to the awards, people like Alyson Essex, a graduate student at IUPUI, will have access to the increasingly diverse resources needed to undertake a wide range of scientific research. Essex's research work focuses on bone and muscle biology.

IU extends its reach in research cyberinfrastructure

With leadership roles in two new National Science Foundation awards, IU flexes expertise in networks, cybersecurity, and high performance computing and data resources

May 17, 2022 High performance

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – IU plays a leadership role in two of five new National Science Foundation (NSF) awards to support research in a wide range of fields from human health and genomics to weather patterns and ocean currents.

Collaboration among the Research Technologies and Networks units of IU’s University Information Technology Services, IU’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, and the Pervasive Technology Institute at IU (PTI) is key to the projects funded by these awards, part of the Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Coordination Ecosystem: Services & Support, or ACCESS, program.

“In order for researchers to do today’s types of collaborative science, they need access to large-scale, high performance computing and data resources, as well as to the connections that make everything work together,” said Rob Lowden, IU vice president for information technology and CIO. “Grant funding has helped IU create and maintain infrastructure that enables research and science in areas that have the potential to improve life on our planet, whether it’s vaccines or clean energy or agriculture. In fact, any research you can think of can be done using this infrastructure. These awards take it to the next level.”

Winona Snapp-Childs, PTI operations director, is a co-PI on the five-year, $20M CONECT award. Snapp-Childs will co-lead the project’s Operational Support team and lead the Student Training and Engagement Program.

The Operational Support team will work to lower technology barriers among NSF-funded resources, giving researchers access to the national cyberinfrastructure and to the increasingly diverse resources needed to undertake a wide range of scientific research.

The Student Training and Engagement Program, which will provide hands-on training opportunities for a diverse group of students, will contribute to a robust and well-trained STEM workforce by training students in high-value, marketable skills in the areas of operations, data and networking, and cybersecurity. 

"The next-generation cyberinfrastructure connections created through this funding will make novel resources accessible to national educators, students, and researchers—particularly those from traditionally underserved audiences," said Snapp-Childs. "Having Indiana University colleagues from areas such as cyberinfrastructure, cybersecurity, and networking in leadership roles speaks not only to the strength of our collaboration, but also to our commitment to bringing resources to people who will benefit greatly from them."

"NSF awards for national cyberinfrastructure benefit not only national science and engineering research and education but our own institution’s research and education as well," noted Beth Plale, PTI executive director. "IU’s leadership in ACCESS means students have proximity to national resources and proximity to the innovation and innovators required for leading-edge infrastructure."

In addition to Snapp-Childs, Indiana University staff serving in leadership roles as senior personnel on the CONECT award include David Hancock, director of advanced cyberinfrastructure for UITS Research Technologies; Marlon Pierce, director of the PTI Cyberinfrastructure Integration Research Center; and Susan Sons, chief security analyst in IU’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. Jennifer Schopf, director of IU’s international networks and of the Engagement and Performance Operations Center, serves as senior personnel on CONECT as well as on ACCESS’s five-year, $10M Advanced CI Coordination Ecosystem: Monitoring and Measurement Services project. This project will develop software that academia, industry and government agencies use to manage high performance computing infrastructure.

As home to research systems such as Big Red 200 and Jetstream2, network operations centers for NOAA’s N-Wave and other advanced research and education networks, and cybersecurity operations centers such as OmniSOC and ResearchSOC, IU is well positioned to advance national research.


ACCESS is the next-generation system to the NSF’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), a single virtual system established in 2011. XSEDE connects U.S. scientists to supercomputer resources and services nationwide, transforming scientific exploration by putting increasingly powerful machines at the disposal of new communities of investigators.

Science and engineering research and education depend upon an increasingly complex and distributed ecosystem of cyberinfrastructure. ACCESS, an evolution of the National Science Foundation’s plans for coordination and operation of this CI, represents a fundamentally new approach to supporting this ecosystem, which will improve the agility, democratized accessibility, usability and coordination of the national research cyberinfrastructure ecosystem.

About the Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University

The Pervasive Technology Institute at IU is a collaborative organization designed to marshal IU's computational experts and resources quickly in response to societal, research, and educational needs. In partnership with UITS, PTI also led the original Jetstream award. PTI was established in 1999 by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment and has continued to lead productive uses and applications of research technologies for over 20 years.

About University Information Technology Services

University Information Technology Services is part of the Office of the Vice President for IT and Chief Information Officer for Indiana University. It provides services across all IU campuses to support the mission of Indiana University. 

COre National Ecosystem for CyberinfrasTructure (CONECT) is funded through NSF award number 2138307, led by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Advanced CI Coordination Ecosystem: Monitoring and Measurement Services is funded through NSF award number 2137603, led by the State University of New York at Buffalo.