What is RCGC?

Monday, June 30, 2014

What is RCGC?

What lurks at the basement of the Computer Center (CC)? Robots, virtual worlds? Almost, but not entirely. Huge supercomputers lurk at the basement of the CC equipped with 6,768 gigabytes of memory and capable of working at 252 Tera-FLOPS, which doesn’t sound cool to those who don’t know what it means, but in reality it means trillions of calculations are going on per second, thousands times faster than your regular desktop computer, some of the fastest in the world. Also at the CC is a virtual reality lab called AZ-LIVE, that provides a three dimensional virtual reality for anyone who needs it, for research, architecture, medicine, engineering, and more. 

Shepherding these computing resources is the Research Computing Governance Committee (RCGC). Comprised of researchers and IT professionals, this interdisciplinary group provides counsel to guide the development of central research computing resources at UA in order to best serve the needs of researchers across campus. By launching new pilot projects and implementing new policies and procedures for these shared computing resources, RCGC has expanded their advanced computing resources with a more efficient and effective system. 

In the past it was hard for some researchers to get ahead because they required supercomputers for their research, but to get a supercomputer, one needs grants and money. Now communal resources under “shared governance” by the RCGC committee has created a more efficient system in which multiple faculty and staff around campus work together to provide shared resources and create more efficient policies. The RCGC provides recommendations to the university, advising them what programs and resources are needed, while avoiding duplication of effort. “This method of collaboration by the RCGC saves resources, time, and is bringing in more money, because staff is collectively going in together and pulling resources and is going after the big grants for research possibilities, and sharing resources.” Prof. Joellen Russell, chair of RCGC and Associate Professor of Geoscience and Planetary Science describes this as “growing the pie,” because RCGC is not “pay to play” like other big and small research universities – UA researchers have access to the entire system even before they have funding to contribute to growing the system.

As the prevalence of Big Data - computing of complex sets of information - continues to permeate research in the 21st Century, a wider variety of researchers have sought out the computing resources offered by UA. “Almost everybody is using research computing,” says Russell.

With a growing body of constituents interested in use of the High Performance and High Throughput Computing systems at UA, a more collaborative data sharing and policy procedure has been enacted by the RCGC. With an emphasis on efficiency and accessibility, RCGC policies allow researchers to facilitate the sharing of information, effectively enabling researchers from different departments the ability to access their shared data. 

“I’m stuck” says Russell, “this is the best place ever … we are pulling up our socks here and getting to work, it is really an exciting time here for supercomputing”. 

Researchers in many different fields such as Optics, Humanities, Fine Arts, Engineering, Pharmacy, Chemistry, and more have started to use the resources that the University of Arizona has to offer through RCGC recommendations. 

These computing resources, developed through RCGC recommendations are housed in the University of Arizona UITS data center, where information is securely maintained and the entire system is expertly administered, and maintained by UITS Research, Computing, Systems, and Operations.

The RCGC is co-sponsored by VPR Jennifer Barton, CIO Michele Norin, SVPRHS Joe Garcia, and the Dean of Libraries Karen Williams. The main work of RCGC takes place in the RCGC subcommittees.  The RCGC subcommittees include: HPC 2015 (Chair: Mike Bruck), Big Data (Chair: Paulo Goes), Data Management and Curation (Chair: Chris Kollen), HPC Policies (Chair: Susan Miller), RDC Policies and Co-Location (Chair: Nirav Merchant), and Network (Chair: Dragana Vasic). The following is a list of RCGC members, who contribute to the growing of research on campus. 

LAST

FIRST

COLLEGE

DEPARTMENT

Bambauer

Jane

Law

Law

Barker

Michael

Science

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Bowles

Kathleen

CIO

Univ Information Technology Services

Bruck

Michael 

CIO

Univ Information Technology Services

Childers

Hank

CIO

Enterprise Information & Analytics

Enfield

Leo

Engineering

Engineering

Frumkin

Jeremy

Library

Library

Goes

Paulo

Eller

Management Information Systems

Heidorn

Bryan

SBS

Information & Library Sciences

Hurewitz

Bonnie

AHSC Health Sciences

Health Sciences

Kollen

Chris

Library

Library

Lussier

Yves

AHSC Medicine

Bio5 Informatics

Martin

Diego

AHSC Medicine

AZCC Medical Imaging 

Masseth

Derek

CIO

Univ Information Technology Services

Mcallister

Kenneth

Humanities

English

Merchant

Nirav

VPR

Arizona Research Labs

Miller

Susan

VPR

Arizona Research Labs

Moore

David

Ag & Life Sciences

Natural Resources

Oren

Eyal

AHSC Public Health

Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Orr

Barron

Ag & Life Sciences

Natural Resources & Environment

Pandey

Ritu

AHSC Medicine

AZCC Biomedical Informatics

Peterson

Larry

Science

Computer Science

Pinto

Philip

Science

Astronomy

Russell

Joellen

Science

Geoscience

Saner

Don

AHSC Health Sciences

Medicine

Showman

Adam

Science

Planetary Sciences

Shuffitt

Jason

AHSC Nursing

Nursing

Utzinger

Urs

Engineering

Biomedical Engineering

Vasic

Dragana

CIO

Univ Information Technology Services

Wissinger

John

Optical Sciences

Optical Sciences

Co-Written by: Marisol Moya & Audrey Molloy 

Edited by: Joellen Russell & Mike Bruck