Feb. 9-15, 2001
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Research computing being evaluated

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Preliminary findings of subgroups

Mitch Smith, chair of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Psychology subgroup

The biological sciences subcommittee has been working to "identify the important factors that will influence research computing over the next four or five years," said Smith, a microbiologist.

Several issues have surfaced so far. One of these is the problem of insuring computer security in a networked academic environment where many individual systems are serving information to the Internet. A second problem is how to efficiently manage advanced research system clusters at the department and laboratory level. A third problem is how to provide software programming support services for research projects that may need them on a part-time basis. Along with continuing to discuss these and other issues, the sub-group is surveying peer institutions to learn how others might be handling these problems.

John Lloyd, chair of Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities, Business and Law subgroup

The social sciences subgroup has met with research staff from the libraries' electronic centers and with faculty members who use the GEOSTAT center's technology intensively, among others, to talk about research needs.

"One of the most common concerns s that researchers find it beneficial to have frequent contact with [support personnel] who know the concepts and procedures of their specific discipline, as well as the computing aspects of research," said education professor John Lloyd, the chief technology officer for the Curry School.

In addition, increasing bandwidth will continue to be important, particularly for researchers who need to access data remotely and quickly, and for future research that likely will take place online, he said.

John Hawley, chair of Physical Sciences and Engineering subgroup

The physical sciences subgroup has met with ITC's research computing support group, as well as other colleagues. In addition to other topics, the subcommittee has focused on high-performance computing, also referred to as "supercomputing," said astronomy professor John Hawley.

"We wish to ascertain what researchers need now, and what they will need in the future to take advantage of the unprecedented capabilities of high-performance parallel computing," he said. Both the Virginia 2020 Science and Technology report and the University's Strategic Plan for Information Technology have underscored the need for such a study.


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