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Research Computing scientist co-PI on $15 million NSF Institute

  • Science Highlights

Research Computing senior research scientist Carol Song is the co-principal investigator on a five year $15 million award from the National Science Foundation establishing a new institute for geospatial data-driven scientific research. The institute is part of the NSF’s Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) Big Idea, which is a national effort to enable new modes of data-driven discovery that will address fundamental questions at the frontiers of science and engineering.

The Institute for Geospatial Understanding through an Integrative Discovery Environment (known as I-GUIDE), will be based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and will help researchers better estimate and predict risk and anticipate impacts from natural disasters or climate change.

Song is co-leading the project’s cyberinfrastructure core and her team’s role will be to develop and integrate geospatial cyberinfrastructure to enable the research agenda of the institute and engage with the broader community.

“Purdue Research Computing’s research capacity and recent development in advanced cyberinfrastructure and data frameworks, such as the NSF Anvil and GeoEDF projects, has positioned us well for the CI leadership role in this institute,” said Song.

The new institute brings together about 40 researchers from Purdue, Illinois, Columbia University, Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc., Florida International University, Michigan State University, Open Geospatial Consortium, University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Utah State University, and a variety of other partners.

Purdue is the largest partner in this coalition, and Purdue faculty members involved in the project include Mark Daniel Ward, professor of statistics, Thomas Hertel, distinguished professor of agricultural economics, Iman Haqiqi, postdoctoral research associate in agricultural economics, Venkatesh Merwade, professor of civil engineering, Vetria Byrd, assistant professor of computer graphics technology, and David Johnson, assistant professor of industrial engineering.

“Purdue’s ability to pull together a cohesive and diverse team in a short time is the fruit of successful interdisciplinary collaborations in the past several years,” said Song.

The Purdue team will contribute to key areas of the institute, including the core cyberinfrastructure capabilities and services, convergence science catalysts, geospatial AI and data science, and education and workforce development.

“It’s exciting to be a part of such an impactful initiative that leverages Purdue’s expertise in GIS, artificial intelligence, data visualization and data science, aimed at bridging disciplinary digital data divides,” said Byrd.

“Two of the major application domains for the convergence science are improving decision-making related to floods and understanding the impact of extreme events on the agricultural system. I do research in both of these areas but have never been able to bring them together on a single project, so I’m very excited to be a part of I-GUIDE,” added Johnson.

In all, NSF is investing $75 million to establish five new HDR Institutes as part of its “Big Ideas” initiative.

“NSF’s Big Ideas are a set of 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering and represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergent research,” said Manish Parashar, office director for the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at NSF.

This project is funded by NSF award number 2118320. The principal investigator is Shaowen Wang, professor and head of the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science at the University of Illinois.

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