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University collaboration receives $6 million in funding for new CI workforce project

The National Science Foundation has awarded nearly $6 million to Purdue, Indiana, and Mississippi State Universities to fund a collaborative program aimed at fortifying the cyberinfrastructure (CI) workforce within research communities

News and events Jan 17, 2024

The National Science Foundation has awarded nearly $6 million to Purdue, Indiana, and Mississippi State Universities to fund a collaborative program aimed at fortifying the cyberinfrastructure (CI) workforce within research communities.

The new project, known as CyberInfrastructure Professionals InnoVating and brOadening the adoption of advanced Technologies (CI PIVOT), is funded under the NSF’s Strengthening the Cyberinfrastructure Professionals Ecosystem (SCIPE) program. SCIPE’s goal is to advance the Cyberinfrastructure Professional (CIP) workforce throughout the nation. CI Pivot will help to accomplish this by recruiting individuals with domain-specific expertise and training them to be CI facilitators, making advanced CI accessible and effective for all.

“This project provides an opportunity to reach into the long tail of science and offer tailored support to facilitate innovation,” said Winona Snapp-Childs, chief operating officer of the Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) and director of UITS Research Partnerships at IU and a principal investigator (PI) on the project. “We are targeting research groups on campus that traditionally haven’t utilized advanced cyberinfrastructure, so this project really allows us to enable computational research on a broader scale.”

CI PIVOT aims to provide resources to focus on CIP development in underserved research areas or areas that need advanced capabilities beyond campus-based computing. Specifically, the project will target social, behavioral, and economic sciences, geosciences, and engineering—domains that the team felt were well-positioned to receive the most benefit. Professionals from each of these research fields will be hired and trained in a variety of CI areas, including tools to manage workflows using advanced cyberinfrastructure, parallel and accelerated code development, workflow performance analysis and optimization, advanced cybersecurity, machine and deep learning techniques, and cloud workflow orchestration. These new facilitators will then be able to apply their knowledge of CI within their research domain, accelerating scientific pursuits.

“We’re taking hard-disciplined sciences from underrepresented, underserved communities and trying to help them build out their community of practice,” said Elizabett Hillery, a PI on the project and the Director of Health Data Initiatives at the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering at Purdue. “These fields have not had dedicated cyberinfrastructure professionals before, so our goal is to change that in order to accelerate their research.”

The CI PIVOT project doesn’t stop at simply hiring and training new CI professionals from domain-specific science backgrounds. The intent is much more far-reaching. A major goal of CI PIVOT is to not only elevate the role of CIPs at these local institutions, but regionally and nationally as well. The team envisions building a scalable workforce development for each research field, with the facilitators first learning CI skills and then teaching these skills to others in their domain. The collaborative will work to create domain-specific CI training materials and problem sets that can be shared outside of their respective institutions. CI PIVOT will also engage in community building through innovative practices like future-creating workshops and co-envisioning retreats. All of this amounts to the development of a comprehensive and symbiotic CI research ecosystem.

“The need for cyberinfrastructure professionals across research communities cannot be overstated,” said Rob Lowden, vice president of information technology and chief information officer at Indiana University, “IU has long recognized the need for multidisciplinary collaboration to further scientific advancement and I am proud that IU is a part of this incredible opportunity to expand the cyberinfrastructure workforce in the Hoosier state and beyond.”

CI PIVOT is an extensive collaboration between multiple teams of people. The PIs and Co-PIs listed on the project are as follows:

  • Elizabett Hillery, Principal Investigator, Purdue University
  • Winona Snapp-Childs, Principal Investigator, Indiana University
  • Preston Smith, Co-Principal Investigator, Purdue University
  • Scott Michael, Co-Principal Investigator, Indiana University
  • Jonathan Poggie, Co-Principal Investigator, Purdue University
  • David Hancock, Co-Principal Investigator, Indiana University
  • Matthew Huber, Co-Principal Investigator, Purdue University
  • Kosali Simon, Co-Principal Investigator, Indiana University
  • Michael Navicky, Co-Principal Investigator, Mississippi State University

Recruiting and hiring CI facilitators for the CI PIVOT project will begin soon. If you or a researcher you know within the research fields of social, behavioral, and economic sciences, geosciences, and engineering are interested, please fill out this form: https://forms.gle/RW77zrze9H5uCxEV9

The CI PIVOT project is funded under NSF award numbers 2321090 and 2321091. For more information on these grants, please visit the links provided above.

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