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Thursday, December 1, 2022

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SDSU Part of Joint $6.7M National Science Foundation Grant for Cyberinfrastructure

Grant funds staffing and training, expands network of shared computing resources available to support SDSU’s growing research activity.
By John Chier
 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has jointly awarded the University of California San Diego, San Diego State University and California State University, San Bernardino a five-year, $6.7 million grant to support cyberinfrastructure (CI) training and resources.

UCSD and its San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) are the lead awardees of the grant. SDSU alumna Mary Thomas is the principal investigator (PI) for the interdisciplinary training program and computational data scientist and lead of high-performance computing training at SDSC. 

For SDSU, the grant enables the hiring of a full-time Interdisciplinary Research Professional (IRP) and the creation of a faculty CI fellow program, with a goal of enhancing training opportunities for faculty and staff. The CyberTraining program will utilize and contribute to training materials developed for CI training and other programs, impacting users, including students, researchers and educators. It focuses on four main areas: recruitment and training, Science and Engineering (S&E) project matching and mentoring, S&E research consulting, and fostering and participating in interdisciplinary CI professional communities.

SDSU’s IRP will report to the university’s Chief Technology Research Officer and will support training among various academic units at SDSU’s San Diego and Imperial Valley campuses. The faculty fellow will be a liaison to the broader SDSU faculty and serve as a link connecting leading-edge cyberinfrastructure expertise to faculty capabilities and classroom curricula. It is an extension of an instructional technology model that SDSU has pioneered for more than a decade. 

In addition to human resources, the grant also enhances access to computing resources for SDSU’s students, faculty and researchers. As part of the NSF’s Cyberinfrastructure program, SDSU gains access to the NSF ACCESS Computational Science Support Network (CSSN), a national network of supercomputers that can be tapped when the university’s demand exceeds its internal capacity. Such scalability is becoming more vital as SDSU’s computing-intensive research activity expands and the university continues its climb toward “R1” classification as a premier research institution.

“The program creates not only new internal resources, but also an important bridge from our campus to a national community of subject-matter experts with leading-edge cyberinfrastructure skills,” said Jerry Sheehan, SDSU vice president for Information Technology and chief information officer. “As we expand our capabilities and expertise within SDSU, CI staff and trainees also will be in close contact across institutions, accelerating knowledge transfer, and fostering collaboration in the CI research community.”

In 2022, the NSF included Growing Convergence Research among its “10 Big Ideas.” Convergence research interconnects experts who work together to solve problems that require a broad and diverse set of knowledge, methods, expertise, scientific disciplines, and CI capabilities. As Hispanic-Serving Institutions with significant representation of underrepresented communities, inclusion of SDSU and CSU San Bernardino in the grant award broadens the convergence-research ecosystem and advances the NSF’s goal of broadening participation in engineering.

 

The NSF grant aligns with SDSU’s five-year strategic plan, which includes a commitment to “Becoming a Premier Public Research University: A New Kind of HSI.” A part of this commitment is to “developing infrastructure and resources that enable our research activity to grow while continuing to support excellence in teaching.” 

“It’s an ideal fit,” said Sheehan. “This cyberinfrastructure grant delivers on both sides of the strategic goal – giving us the scalable computing resources to enable more research while also using training and the Faculty Fellow program to grow this expertise among our faculty and students.”