UF part of $30 million effort to expand science "cyber infrastructure"

Published: October 3 2006

Category:Research, Sciences

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The federal government has awarded a $30 million grant to continue research and development on a powerful, new international computing tool, including $425,000 for work on the project at the University of Florida.

The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science last week announced a five-year, $30 million award to the Open Science Grid Consortium, an effort to harness computing resources from around the world to process the vast amounts of data generated by today’s scientific experiments. The $425,000 awarded to UF is on top of $3 million that UF recently received from NSF for Open Science Grid research and development.

The new funds will be used to expand the grid’s applications from physics to other scientific pursuits such as biology that generate amounts of data so vast they are measured in petabytes, where one petabyte equals one million gigabytes.

“On our end the additional money will be used for doing education outreach efforts and promoting the Open Science Grid outside of standard physics applications,” said Paul Avery, a UF professor of physics and one of five principal investigators on the grid project. “We’re trying to broaden its base from traditionally highly focused efforts like physics and astronomy to a diversity of other sciences.”

Avery headed two large-scale research efforts that led to the development of the Open Science Grid, which is being shaped as a permanent international “cyber infrastructure” for research efforts that require extremely large amounts of memory and processing power. The first was an $11.9 million initiative launched in 2000 that pioneered a new concept called virtual data, in which the resources of a scientific collaboration become a single vast computing and storage system.

Avery also directed the International Virtual Data Grid Laboratory, a $14 million project to connect powerful computers at 40 locations in the United States, South America and Asia. That project led to the creation of “Grid3,” the immediate precursor to Open Science Grid. He and other colleagues at UF also play leading roles in other national projects. Ultralight, for example, helped precipitate Florida LambdaRail, a high-speed network connecting UF and nine other Florida universities, which permits large data resources to be shared among Florida institutions and with international research partners.

The Open Science Grid, which has been operating since 2005, harnesses computers and computing resources from 50 sites in the U.S., Asia and South America, giving researchers the ability to share and process vast stores of data. UF is one of 15 members of the grid consortium sharing the $30 million.

“Over the next two years the Open Science Grid will create one of the nation’s most powerful computing facilities and serve dozens of research and education initiatives around the world,” said Avery. “I am very pleased that our researchers and facilities are positioned to make UF one of the principal driving forces for achieving this vision.”



Aaron Hoover, ahoover@ufl.edu, 352-392-0186


Paul Avery, avery@phys.ufl.edu, 352-392-9264


Category:Research, Sciences