Center for Research Computing Hosts Cyberinfrastructure Days

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame are currently conducting studies that address complex problems in fields like health and energy. To advance the understanding and treatment of heart disease, strokes and hemophilia, experts are modeling highly complex blood clotting processes. To support development of clean fossil fuels, experts are expanding molecular-level understanding of chemical reactivity at surfaces. To determine how genomes affect behavior, experts are generating latent variable modeling and analysis in psychology research. These are just a few examples of the groundbreaking research happening at the University, and while they vary greatly in their focus and application, they have a common requirement: the need to process and store vast amounts of data. That’s where the Center for Research Computing (CRC) comes in.

CRC enhances the University’s cyberinfrastructure, provides support for interdisciplinary research and education and conducts computational research. CRCcollaboration and expertise extend far beyond campus, most recently in the form of Cyberinfrastructure (CI) Days, a two-day event that explored how CI enhances education and research initiatives and programs.

The term cyberinfrastructure refers to all aspects of modern computation, from computing, networking and data systems to software and algorithm development and to enabling small- to large-scale collaborations. CI acknowledges the tremendous impact such systems will have on 21st century science and on all aspects of life as researchers, educators, industry leaders and artists are increasingly relying on information technology to achieve breakthroughs that were impossible just a few years ago.

CI Days, held April 29-30 at the Mendoza College of Business, focused on the University’s CI capabilities and requirements as well as the role of research universities in the global CI environment. The conference provided a forum for nearly 300 people to discuss potential impacts CI may have on professional and social lives and sought to help Notre Dame and other local colleges’faculties understand the potential benefits that CI can provide to their scholarship, teaching, research and outreach, to learn what national resources are available and to see what faculty and students are already doing with cyberinfrastructure.

The first day’s schedule concentrated on CI for the arts and humanities, the second day’s schedule on CI for science and engineering. Experts from around the world participated in presentations and panel discussions, including:

  • Vernon Burton, Burroughs Distinguished Professor of Southern History and Culture at Coastal Carolina University and Founding Director and Chair Advisory Board Member for the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Presentation: “Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences”
  • William Donaruma, associate professor in the Department of Film, Television and Theater at the University of Notre Dame. Presentation: “Choreography in Virtual Space”
  • Tony Hey, corporate vice president of the External Research Division of Microsoft Research. Presentation: “The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery”
  • Edward Seidel, director of the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation and the Floating Point Systems Professor in Louisiana State University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. Presentation: “The Transformation of Modern Science”
  • Boleslaw Szymanski, Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor of the Department of Computer Science and the Founding Head of the Center for Pervasive Computing and Networking at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Presentation: “Massively Distributed Evolutionary Search Algorithms.”

The conference also included poster sessions, with Best Poster Award presented to Ying Zhou (the primary presenter), S.M. Niaz Arifin, James Gentile, Steven J. Kurtz, Gregory J. Davis, Barbara A Wendelberger, Neil F. Lobo, Palaghia Jenica Abrudan, Frank H. Collins and Greg Madey for their work on Agent-based Modeling of the Anopheles gambiaeLife Cycle for Malaria Control.

The complete schedule, including presenter biographies and videos of all the presentations is available online at .

CRC will likely host CI Days again in 2012 and will this fall host a workshop for University faculty to focus on computational needs in social science, art and humanities.


CI Days was made possible by the CI Days Consortium, a group of higher education associations that includes EDUCAUSEInternet2, Minority-Serving Institution Cyberinfrastructure Empowerment Coalition ( MSI – CIEC ), National LambdaRail,Open Science GridSURA and TeraGrid . A National Science Foundation grant enabled the consortium to promote and fund CI Days at eight research universities, including the University of Notre Dame.

Sponsors from the University included the Vice President for Research, Office of Information Technology, Center for Research Computing and all Notre Dame colleges. Corporate sponsors included Dell, Inc., Mediasite, Dewpoint, Hitachi, Panasas, Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company and Matrix Integration.


Established in 2005 by the University of Notre Dame Office of Information Technologies and the Office of Research to provide effective infrastructure and Support to campus researchers, CRC is a multidisciplinary center that supports the research paradigm of theory to computational models to experimental verification.

The center provides powerful computing resources and expertise in computing cycles, storage, networking and visualization. Specifically, the center provides access to state-of-the-art, high-end computing and communication infrastructure, system administration, user support and training.

In fact, more than 50 research groups representing areas like chemistry, biochemistry and engineering are currently using the CRC compute clusters, with new users added every week. These high-performance computers, including a new 6,000-core cluster recently purchased by the CRC and University faculty, enable researchers to quickly process large amounts of data. “The new CRC cluster has already allowed some researchers to more than triple their productivity,” said Jarek Nabrzyski, director of CRC . “This new cluster was also surprisingly easy to integrate into our existing systems, and the excellent high-performance-to-price ratio allows us to maximize new resource allocations for our high capacity user requirements.”

The increasingly complex nature of research in all disciplines means an increasing need for collaboration with external experts. For disciplines that rely on advanced information technology to further their research, CRC is an invaluable resource not practicable for individual colleges or departments to establish and maintain independently. CRC is composed of the High Performance Computing and the CyberInfrastructure Development groups that include computational scientists who specialize in such areas as computational mathematics, astrophysics, physics, molecular dynamics, computer science, geographical information systems, scientific portals, visualization, application performance tuning, parallel and distributed computing, cloud and grid computing. CRC has worked on a variety of projects – from digital sculpture and 3D filmmaking to science engineering to psychology.

CRC also oversees the Geospatial Analysis Lab. The mission of the lab is to advance the development and application of remote sensing and geospatial analysis to inventory and monitor natural and environmental resources through research and outreach. The lab is actively involved with instruction and graduate education. The lab is co-funded by the CRC and by the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative.

For more information about the Center for Research Computing contact Jarek Nabrzyski, director, at 574-631-2400.