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Daphne Siefert-Herron
Pervasive Technology Labs at Indiana University

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Last modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2007

IU research labs receive $1.69 million to develop scientific research gateway

Oct. 10, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In an ever-changing digital research environment, scientists everywhere need better access to some of the world's most advanced supercomputers and large scientific data storage facilities to run computational experiments more efficiently. To make that happen, scientists need more user-friendly software tools.

This is how researchers from Indiana University's Pervasive Technology Labs and School of Informatics describe the goal of a new project titled "Open Grid Computing Environments (OGCE) Software for Science Gateways." The project has been awarded a grant totaling more than $1.69 million from the National Science Foundation.

Research Gateway

Scientists need more user-friendly software tools, and to create them, IU's Pervasive Technology Labs and School of Informatics has been awarded a grant totaling more than $1.69 million from the National Science Foundation.

The OGCE project will be led by Marlon Pierce, assistant director of the of the IU Pervasive Technology Labs (PTL); Dennis Gannon, science director of PTL and professor for the IU School of Informatics; and Nancy Wilkins-Diehr, TeraGrid area director for Science Gateways.

"Scientists studying climate change or searching for new drugs to treat illness benefit greatly from grid computing resources such as the TeraGrid, a national network of supercomputers and data storage facilities, but they are not usually experts in the complex software that powers these resources and binds them together. They need tools that will make this technology easy to use, so they can remain focused on their science," said Pierce, project principal investigator.

Researchers with the OGCE project seek to develop software that can easily be used by new groups to create their own powerful Web gateways. Much like a commercial Web portal such as that allows users to browse and purchase products, a science gateway provides a logical interface to essential online resources for scientists. Gateways provide capabilities such as personalized views of computing resources, collaborative search tools, and mechanisms for conducting and archiving online experiments and sharing results. Since many scientists also are not experts in high-performance computing or grid middleware, science gateways are valuable in helping them access the supercomputing and data storage resources required to support today's leading-edge scientific discovery.

A Web portal such as this also provides an easy and secure way for scientists and students from minority-serving institutions and smaller institutions without their own supercomputing facilities to tap into the nation's advanced high-performance computing resources for research and education.

IU Professors Geoffrey Fox and Beth Plale from the School of Informatics also are involved in leading this project. Additional collaborators include the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Texas Advanced Computing Center, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, San Diego State University (SDSU), and the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI).