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IU staff member accepts historic NSF position

Marlon Pierce has accepted an appointment with the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a program officer, a first for an IU staff member

News and events Apr 19, 2023
Marlon Pierce
Marlon Pierce. Photo by Chris Meyer/Indiana University

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.— Marlon Pierce, longtime University Information Technology Services staff member and director of the Cyberinfrastructure Integration Research Center (CIRC) at Indiana University (IU), has accepted an appointment with the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a program officer. Pierce is the first IU staff member to serve in a program officer role and will reside in the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC). Pierce’s appointment is through an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) appointment to the NSF.  

“This appointment speaks to Marlon’s leadership in the use of scalable cyberinfrastructure for scientific research,” said Rob Lowden, IU vice president for information technology and CIO. “This is a path-breaking accomplishment for Indiana University and speaks to the university’s role in supercomputing nationally.”  

Pierce’s term as a program director will begin April 24, 2023. Program directors oversee the NSF’s “gold standard” merit review process and may help define new funding opportunities. Key responsibilities include interacting with potential principal investigators, forming and facilitating merit review panels, and recommending funding decisions. Upon conclusion of his appointment, Pierce plans to return to IU. 

“Marlon’s foundational contribution to the architecture of scientific gateways as portals to high performance computing is nationally known,” said Beth Plale, executive director of the IU Pervasive Technology Institute. “In his new role he will influence national research infrastructure more broadly and bring that experience back to benefit Indiana University upon his return.” 

“I’m excited not just about what can I do in this position, but what can I enable others to do,” Pierce said. “I’m not just advancing my own research agenda but fostering the advancement of infrastructure to support science at a completely different level.” 

In his 21 years at IU, Pierce led distributed systems research into scalable, open-source cyberinfrastructure to support computational and data-driven science. 

Pierce investigated the development of science gateway technologies that provide science-centric user services, APIs, and interfaces for advanced computing infrastructure. The focus of this work was to adapt web- and cloud-scale distributed-systems approaches to the needs of communities of scientific researchers.  Pierce has served as principal investigator, co-principal investigator, and senior personnel on numerous NSF-funded, NASA-funded, and National Institutes of Health-funded projects. 

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