BATON ROUGE – LSU’s state-of-the-art computer data network will soon be further advanced as a result of a nearly $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, announced this week.
The grant, titled BIPAS, or Bifurcated Infrastructure Promoting the Advance of Science: Revitalizing LSU’s Data Network Infrastructure, will enhance the university’s high-speed data communication network, better enabling it to handle very large amounts of data flow critical to researchers across a variety of disciplines. The grant comes to LSU as part of the NSF’s Academic Research Infrastructure Program: Recovery & Reinvestment.
With the NSF funding, LSU will be able to extend the benefits of its very high-speed research connectivity from the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, or LONI, and national cyber-backbones – like Internet2 – deep into the campus infrastructure that serve research labs and classrooms. Additionally, LSU will be able to provide on-demand increases in connectivity in response to future classroom and research needs.
LSU has already made significant investments in upgrading the core campus network infrastructure through its Network 2010 initiative, providing an infrastructure matching that of its national flagship research university peers. This new infusion of federal grant monies will take LSU’s research-enabling network infrastructure to a level of capability available only at the most elite research labs and institutions in the world.
“With this funding, we will be enabling our researchers through a greater abundance of critical information technology resources,” explained the grant’s principal investigator Brian D. Voss, vice chancellor and chief information officer. “Researchers will be able to consider and pursue new avenues of discovery unhindered by their location on the campus as they develop ideas and proposals, collaborate with colleagues and access world-wide resources with high-speed connectivity readily available where it needs to be.”
LSU already utilizes a rich array of cyberinfrastructure resources to advance discovery in the sciences and arts like its campus supercomputers, LONI networking and computational systems, and via LONI the resources of TeraGrid, the backbone of national cyberinfrastructure. The new grant-funded network enhancements will better enable the use of these resources by all but especially non-traditional areas of computational research including music, theatrical and visual arts.
Stephen David Beck, co-PI and interim director of the LSU Center for Computation & Technology, or CCT, stated, “The NSF grant will provide opportunities for campus researchers in many disciplines to continue their innovative work through advanced computational resources. This grant also will advance ongoing projects, such as the university’s Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research, or AVATAR, initiative in digital media.”
Added fellow co-PI Shantenu Jha, CCT director of cyberinfrastructure and professor with the LSU Department of Computer Science, “LSU earned this award because of the merit of the science and broader impact we proposed to advance through this investment by the NSF; it builds upon our achievements and sets the stage for more in the future.”
According to Ric Simmons, co-PI and deputy chief information officer for networking and infrastructure, the grant will be spent on the research network that is separate and distinct from the main Internet traffic on campus.
“We are committed to making sure that our researchers have the fastest access to resources like Internet2 and the LONI network and the resources and collaborators connected via those advanced networks,” he said.
But security is not sacrificed for speed. Grant co-PI Brian Nichols, executive director of risk management and former chief information security officer, stated, “Maintaining the integrity of our data remains paramount. The research network that LSU will put into place is designed for speed, but speed delivered securely.”
These funding resources arrive at a crucial time for LSU, providing a needed boost in capabilities.
“These network advances funded by the National Science Foundation will improve the quality and effectiveness of researchers, our university and the state of Louisiana,” said John M. Hamilton, LSU provost & executive vice chancellor. “In addition to this, this funding offers an object lesson in what it means to have a great university. If budget cuts continue unabated, we will lose the opportunity to acquire such funding, which will in turn harm the state.”
The National Science Foundation, or NSF, is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year 2010, its budget is about $6.9 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 45,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes more than 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards more than $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly. Details of the Academic Research Infrastructure Program: Recovery & Reinvestment (ARI-R2) can be found at http://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/programs/ari/.
The Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, or LONI, is a state-of-the-art fiber optics network that runs throughout Louisiana and connects Louisiana and Mississippi research universities to one another as well to national advanced networks (such as Internet2). LONI connects Louisiana’s major research universities – LSU, Louisiana Tech University, LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Southern University, Tulane University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette and University of New Orleans – allowing greater collaboration on research that produces results faster and with greater accuracy. LONI provides Louisiana researchers with one of the most advanced optical networks in the country and the most powerful distributed supercomputer resources available to any academic community with more than 85 teraflops of computational capacity. Additional information about LONI can be found at http://loni.org/.
TeraGrid is an open scientific discovery infrastructure combining leadership class resources at 11 partner sites to create an integrated, persistent computational resource. Using high-performance network connections, TeraGrid integrates high-performance computers, data resources and tools, and high-end experimental facilities around the country. With a combination of computation, data storage, high-performance networks and more than 100 discipline-specific database resources, the TeraGrid is the world’s largest, most comprehensive distributed cyberinfrastructure for open scientific research. TeraGrid is coordinated through the Grid Infrastructure Group, or GIG, at the University of Chicago, working in partnership with the resource provider sites: the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, Indiana University, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the National Institute for Computational Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Purdue University, San Diego Supercomputer Center, Texas Advanced Computing Center, University of Chicago/Argonne National Laboratory and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Additional information about TeraGrid can be found at https://www.teragrid.org/.