We are in an era of Big Data and Extreme Computing! Computing and data have the potential for fundamentally transforming science and society, impacting every aspect of our lives and our environment. They are critical to understanding (and managing) natural, engineering, and human systems, from climate change to smart infrastructure, personalized healthcare, and social networks.
Consequently, it has become essential for an academic institution to have access to leading edge computing and data capabilities—and more importantly—the multidisciplinary research structures and expertise necessary to effectively leverage them to address grand challenges.
We founded the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute (RDI2) to respond to this reality. RDI2, a unit of the Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED) at Rutgers University, is a university-wide, multidisciplinary resource for computational and data-enabled science and engineering research, education, and outreach.
The overarching goal of RDI2 is to bridge more traditional research boundaries and catalyze socio-technical changes across all disciplines, stimulating new thinking and new practices essential to addressing and solving grand challenges.
RDI2 dynamically integrates research, education, and advanced technologies to broaden academic and industry access to state-of-the-art computing and data analytics capabilities. It provides academic and industry researchers with the interdisciplinary expertise and resources necessary to address the grand challenges in their fields, and provides leadership in Big Data and Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at the university, state, and national levels.
RDI2 has a strong set of achievements and impacts since its creation in 2012. Combining leadership in research, expertise, advanced tools and algorithms, and advanced cyberinfrastructure ecosystems, RDI2 has engaged leading academic and industry researchers (at Rutgers, New Jersey, the US, and internationally) in innovative, interdisciplinary collaborations.
These collaborations have resulted in over 170 peer-reviewed scholarly publications, multiple awards, and widely used software systems. RDI2 PIs have also successfully received 52 federal, state, and industry grants and sponsorships for a total of ~$52.5M. RDI2 researchers are contributing to large scale national and international projects in areas such as extreme-scale computing, large-scale and streaming data analytics, edge computing and IoT, and computational and data-driven science and engineering, and advanced cyberinfrastructure more broadly.
RDI2 has deployed a comprehensive cyberinfrastructure ecosystem at Rutgers, which includes research and production facilities, high performance computing, cloud and data infrastructure, research instruments, and experimental platforms. RDI2, through a grant it received from the state of New Jersey, architected, deployed and operates New Jersey’s most powerful supercomputer, Caliburn (introduced in June 2016 as the 2nd most powerful computer among the Big 10).
RDI2’s research cyberinfrastructure is open to all faculty and students across Rutgers, as well as academia and industry throughout the state, and is part of the XSEDE national cyberinfrastructure. Caliburn is delivering hundreds of millions of hours of massively parallel computing to researchers across New Jersey and enabling cutting-edge research and innovations in a wide range of disciplines including chemistry and chemical biology, engineering, genomics, humanities, integrative biology, mathematics, medical informatics, microbiology, proteomics, physics and astronomy, that would not be possible otherwise. Recent innovations have added hardware and software support for machine learning and data analytics as well as seamless Cloud integration.
RDI2 is also operating the cyberinfrastructure for the NSF Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) program, the largest ocean observing program in the world. RDI2, in collaboration with academic partners including Pennsylvania State University, and regional network providers, KINBER and NJEdge, designed the Virtual Data Collaboratory (VDC) to transform shared data as a modality for research and discovery. The VDC is an NSF-funded regional federated data cyberinfrastructure for data-intensive, interdisciplinary, and collaborative research.
RDI2 also led the university-wide ACI strategy that resulted in the formation of the Rutgers Office of Advanced Research Computing (OARC) and was instrumental in the formation of the statewide New Jersey Big Data Alliance (NJBDA). The NJBDA brings together academic institutions, government organizations and industry across the state to collaboratively address Big Data challenges and seize Big Data opportunities. RDI2 is also playing a leadership role in the state’s cyberinfrastructure and Big Data efforts.
RDI2 has been actively involved in education and outreach activities in the areas of computation and data at the graduate, undergraduate, and K-12 levels, has established a fellowship program to support students engaged in computational and data-enabled science and engineering research, and has been working with the community to explore social issues such as cyberbullying and its impact on students. RDI2's distinguished seminar series regularly hosts leading researchers from academia, government, and industry. RDI2 also organizes workshops and other events on important and timely topics.
According to Manish Parashar, Founding Director of RDI2 and Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, “RDI2's overarching mission is to accelerate discovery and drive innovation through advanced computing and data, and we will continue to push the boundaries of multidisciplinary research and break barriers towards realizing this mission. We invite you to join us in our journey.”