Supercomputer will enhance undergraduate research at UT


The Daily Texan | Allie Kolechta

Biology senior Jeevitha Patil has conducted award-winning research on what happens to fluids — specifically grapefruit juice — after it travels through the body.

She has also studied cancer and epilepsy off-campus.

Patil is one of many student researchers who will soon have the opportunity to utilize high-end technology used by professionals across the U.S. Because of $27 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, the Texas Advanced Computing Center will build a new supercomputer in the J.J. Pickle Research Center by 2013.

The supercomputer could be extremely useful to student researchers at UT if they are aware of it, because many research opportunities are not advertised enough to students, Patil said.

“Personally, research has been teaching me how to do real-life problem solving that I would never do in a classroom,“ she said. “It’s about approaching these complex questions. I think the computer would be a really cool thing to get involved with if students knew about it, because there are a lot of research opportunities here that students just don’t know about.”

The new supercomputer will be available for use by some student researchers until the grant is up for renewal in 2017. The computer, which will be known as Stampede, will provide students with the opportunity to research with fewer limitations, said NSF spokeswoman Lisa-Joy Zgorski.

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“The merit review panel that evaluated TACC’s proposal for the computer was no doubt impressed,” she said. “What TACC brought forth was a powerful combination of system and services for open science research, a key element of what this system will enable.”

Stampede’s system will allow student researchers to be involved in advanced computation they have not yet had the opportunity to deal with, Zgorski said.

According to a press release, Stampede will run on NSF’s “eXtreme Digital” program, which runs the majority of NSF’s high end computational resources available to researchers in the U.S. It will support professional research projects from across the U.S. as well as from student researchers involved in advanced computational science and technology.

“This will allow student researchers to study and research some of the most vexing challenges we have in our nation today,” Zgorski said. “It’s all about pushing the limits of science and research, and that’s our goal in everything we do.”

Stampede will open up new windows of opportunity for students researching sciences at UT, said computer science senior Jeremy Shapiro.

“I’m sure it would benefit my education in computer sciences,” he said. “With that much technology and money put into it, it could make researching something so much quicker and more efficient.”

Printed on September 30, 2011 as: $27m in supercomputer grants incite Stampede of knowledge

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