UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering University of California San Diego
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UCSD Wins Support for Information Technology Projects that Will Bring Over $22 Million to Campus

In the latest round of awards from the National Science Foundation's Information Technology Research (ITR) program, UCSD is partnering with universities nationwide on eight new projects. The ITR awards earmark $22 million to UCSD, for research on fundamental advances—from development of a new architecture for optically-based computer networks, to novel ways to use information technology (IT) in the study of earth sciences.

Using IT to further earth sciences is a focus of the four largest ITR projects.

Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Professor and Cal-(IT)² director Larry Smarr is the principal investigator on the largest ITR project approved by the NSF this year. The $13.5 million award will fund development of the “OptIPuter,” a new type of distributed cyber “infostructure” to support advanced scientific research and collaboration. Researchers—most of them at UCSD and the University of Illinois at Chicago—will design and deploy techniques for tightly coupling computational, storage and visualization resources over parallel optical networks using the Internet Protocol (IP) communication mechanism.

Jacobs School faculty are also teaming up with San Diego Supercomputer Center researchers on three other ITR projects bringing $10 million to UCSD. The GEOscience Network, dubbed GEON, will create a modern IT framework for the earth sciences. The IT research at UCSD will be led by SDSC’s Chaitan Baru, with support from researchers in the CSE department. SDSC and CSE investigators will also team up on the Science Environment for Ecological Knowledge (SEEK) project, to develop tools and capabilities to help researchers address global research, management, and policy issues in environmental biology. And work by CSE Professor Fan Chung Graham and SDSC’s Amarnath Gupta is slated to develop a framework to analyze, model and design robust, complex networks using biological and computational principles.

Other awards to Jacobs School faculty include: $2.1 million for a project led by Structural Engineering Professors Ahmed Elgamal and Joel Conte, to develop an integrated framework for health monitoring of highway bridges and other civil infrastructure; and $400,000 to Electrical and Computer Engineering Professors Paul Siegel and Jack Keil Wolf. The current
and former directors (respectively) of the Center for Magnetic Recording Research will study the informationtheoretic limits of storage densities and data transfer rates in magnetic recording, and develop techniques to achieve those limits.

Also approved: a new center that will cross-fertilize ideas and methods from biology and biochemistry with the physics of complex systems. The Center for Theoretical Biological Physics is led by UCSD Physics Professors Jose Onuchic and Herbert Levine. Total NSF funding for the center is $10.5 million, with half of it coming in the form of an ITR award; $3.7 million of the ITR portion is allocated to UCSD.