Feb. 9-15, 2001
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Research computing being evaluated

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Research computing being evaluated

By Anne Bromley

With the use of computers becoming more and more integral to research, a task force, convened last fall, is evaluating how things are working and where the University needs to boost support of information technology.

Established by Dr. Robert Reynolds, vice president and chief information officer, and Vice President for Research and Public Service Gene Block, the task force, chaired by biology professor W. Otto Friesen, comprises more than 30 faculty and staff members and is divided into three subgroups.

Research Computing Task Force


Review the current status of U.Va. support of research through computing and IT
Examine the computing/IT resources provided at peer institutions
Illuminate the gaps and needs for additional support
Formulate specific short- and long-term recommendations

See http://www.itc.virginia.edu/rctf/

"During my administration in Information Technology and Communication, I hope to enhance institutional support of research and pedagogy through information technology," Dr. Reynolds said. "In order to understand better the ways we are now supporting research and teaching, it's necessary to conduct a University-wide assessment based on input from faculty and students."

The task force is looking at how computers are being used for all types of research, from lab work to humanities scholarship, and what is being done that couldn't be done without the use of technology. The task force subgroups are interested in how researchers use the complete continuum of scale, from laptops to mainframes, Friesen said. They also want to know how departments in ITC are most helpful -- providing services such as virus protection software and technical support, for example.

The task force hopes to pinpoint where more help is needed, in terms of funds and personnel, in order to figure out how to allocate existing resources and see where the University needs more support. The sub-groups have held forums around Grounds to solicit input and are expanding their efforts to reach as many people as possible by setting up a feedback form on the task force Web site (http://www.itc.virginia.edu/rctf). Their deadline for submitting final reports with recommendations is March 5, so that their work can be used in the University's budget planning.

"We are now at a crucial stage in our efforts to gather information from faculty and students and formulating a compendium of our needs for more effectively furthering research that requires or is facilitated by the use of computers," Friesen said. "We need to make faculty, staff and students across Grounds aware of this important effort so that they can provide the broad input that will be critical in the assessment of our needs for computer hardware, software, staff support and infrastructure to enhance our academic research."

Preliminary findings of subgroups


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