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NSF Award Keeps Midwest Big Data Hub at Illinois

7/12/2019 4:04:53 PM By the National Center for Supercomputing Applications

The Midwest Big Data Hub will continue to be led from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the National Science Foundation has said as part of its announcement of the second phase of funding for the regional Big Data Innovation Hub program.

"The Midwest Big Data Hub has built a strong network of partners and a diverse community of stakeholders in the region." -- NCSA Director and Illinois CS Professor Bill Gropp
"The Midwest Big Data Hub has built a strong network of partners and a diverse community of stakeholders in the region." -- NCSA Director and Illinois CS Professor Bill Gropp

Under the planned four year, $4 million award, the Hub's priority focus areas will be co-led by five partner institutions in the region: Indiana University, Iowa State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, and the University of North Dakota.

"Developing innovative, effective solutions to grand challenges requires linking scientists and engineers with local communities," said Jim Kurose, Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation, which funded these awards. "The Big Data Hubs provide the glue to achieve those links, bringing together teams of data science researchers with cities, municipalities and anchor institutions."

"The Midwest Big Data Hub has built a strong network of partners and a diverse community of stakeholders in the region," said Bill Gropp, Principal Investigator for the award, director of NCSA, and the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science. "The Hub is well positioned to continue its record of fostering innovative partnerships and providing valued services to our stakeholders in its next phase. Our partner institutions are leaders in the region, and each brings unique strengths to the priority areas they lead."

First funded in 2015, the four regional BD Hubs were designed by NSF with offices in the Midwest (led by Illinois), West (UC Berkeley), South (Georgia Tech and UNC Chapel Hill), and the Northeast (Columbia University). The Midwest Hub serves a 12-state region that includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The Midwest Hub's priority areas currently include:

  • Advanced Materials and Manufacturing — Led by the University of Illinois, this area focuses on next-generation materials research in a manufacturing context, and complements the 2016 NSF Big Data Spoke awards on integrative materials design (iMaD) to Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin - Madison, and the University of Michigan, as well as leveraging existing partnerships with the Materials Data Facility, the nanoMFG node at Illinois, and the Center for Hierarchical Materials Design (CHiMaD) at Northwestern University—all supported by NSF.
  • Water Quality — Led by a new Phase 2 partner, the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, this area complements the existing water cyberinfrastructure focus of the MBDH through the NSF Big Data Spoke awards made in 2018 to Iowa State University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Iowa.
  • Big Data in Health — The University of Michigan will continue to lead this area, with contributions from Indiana University, building on prior work in Phase 1 as well as the Spoke awards for the Advanced Computational Neuroscience Network (ACNN).
  • Digital Agriculture — Iowa State University will lead this area, with continuing contributions from the University of North Dakota, the University of Nebraska, the University of Illinois, and other partners, including from the 2016 Spoke award for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Plant Sciences and Education (UASPSE), to continue to build a vibrant stakeholder community engaged with transdisciplinary issues around data for agriculture, food production and plant and animal science.
  • Smart, Connected, and Resilient Communities — Led by Indiana University with contributions from Iowa State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Illinois, this area continues to build a network and connect resources at the intersection between research and data-driven community decision-making.

"By catalyzing partnerships that integrate academic researchers into the fabric of communities across the U.S., we can accelerate and deepen the impact of basic research on a range of societal issues, from water management to efficient transportation systems," said Beth Plale, one of the National Science Foundation program directors managing the Big Data Hubs awards.

The Midwest Hub also leads initiatives for broadening participation in data science education, cyberinfrastructure for research data management, and cybersecurity issues around big data.

The MBDH project office is housed at NCSA, which provides computing, data, networking, and visualization resources and expertise that help scientists and engineers across the country better understand and improve our world.