National Science Foundation Awards UM $395K for Computing Cluster

June 28, 2019

Zach Rossmiller, executive director of UM Cyberinfrastructure. UM photoMISSOULA – The University of Montana recently was awarded $395,000 from the National Science Foundation to build a high-performance computing cluster for UM researchers and students in support of scientific discovery.

Zach Rossmiller, executive director of UM Cyberinfrastructure, will serve as the principal investigator for the one-year grant, from NSF’s Campus Cyberinfrastructure program.

 Cyberinfrastructure typically describes research environments that support advanced data storage, management, integration and mining for better collaboration in the science disciplines.

The proposal was created by Rossmiller, members of UM’s scientific research community and the University’s Social Science Research Laboratory. Rossmiller said the successful proposal will allow UM to build its first shared computing cluster, called UMSCC.

“Having a resource like the shared computing cluster is a huge benefit to not only our current researchers, but also to any new and incoming researchers,” he said. “We are providing a resource for them so that they can hit the ground running as soon as they step foot on campus.”

Open source software solutions and participation in the Open Science Grid, a national distributed computing partnership, will extend computing resources to internal and external research groups. Rossmiller said he expects UMSCC to be ready for use before fall 2020.

“A resource like this on campus is crucial for our researchers to be competitive in their respective research fields and academic contributions at UM,” he said. “Campus IT is working hard to provide University researchers and educators access to high-performance computing, high-bandwidth network and sharable storage.”

Rossmiller said a special aspect of this project is the working relationship between IT and UM’s scientific research community.

 “Current research needs were the driving force behind the project,” he said.

Additionally, NSF evaluated proposals based on the level of collaboration between IT departments and researchers in identifying computing solutions, as well as the strength of the research enabled by the proposed improvements.

Co-principal investigators at UM include Hilary Martens, assistant professor of geophysics in the College of Humanities and Sciences; Erin Landguth, associate professor in the School of Public and Community Health Sciences’s Computational Ecology Lab; Jeffrey Good, associate professor in the Division of Biological Sciences; and Travis Wheeler, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science.

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Contact: Zach Rossmiller, UM Cyberinfrastructure executive director, 406-243-6556, zachary.rossmiller@umontana.edu.