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NSF Grant Will Enhance DePauw's Cyberinfrastructure and Internet Connectivity

July 24, 2017

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded DePauw University a $210,000 grant for "CC* Network Design: Network Infrastructure for Improved Student Engagement in Science Discovery and Innovation," a project that will enhance cyberinfrastructure and internet connectivity on the campus.

The successful grant proposal, which aims to "reduce limitations that hinder effective data exchange and use of remote applications in the process of scientific discovery and education," was led by Carol Smith, chief information officer at DePauw, with collaboration from professors Daniel Gurnon (biochemistry), David A. Berque (Tenzer Technology Center and Visualization Laboratory), Pascal Lafontant (biology), and Gloria C. Townsend (computer science) as well as James Ketterer (director of IT infrastructure).

The project promises to increase the campus connection to national research networks through Indiana’s regional network provider, I­Light, from 1Gpbs to 10Gbps; create internet redundancy via a secondary fiber optic link to I-Light; and implement a "science demilitarized zone" with high performance data transfer and PerfSonar nodes.

"This important and exciting grant will propel undergraduate research at DePauw forward, as it will allow large amounts of data to move and be exchanged between our institution and research institutions," notes Anne F. Harris, vice president for academic affairs and Johnson Family University Professor of Art and Art History. "The benefits will be felt throughout the DePauw campus, and will open up all sorts of possibilities for our students and their faculty collaborators to produce research at the national level."

The improvements enabled by this project will significantly improve the transfer of large datasets, which in turn will lead to an improved ability for DePauw University faculty and undergraduate researchers to conduct research in STEM disciplines using both on-campus and off-campus resources. Among other things, the grant will impact:D2X 7894

  • Dr. Berque’s “Computer Science and Visualization Laboratory Support” project, which has the potential to improve our understanding of techniques and tools that allow authors to develop interactive documents that blend textual description and data-driven arguments, even if they do not have the ability to code.
  • Dr. Lafontant’s “Comparative Cardiovascular Development and Regeneration in Model Fish Species”, a  project that will add to our general understanding of heart regeneration in selected species of tropical fish whose damaged heart tissue is replaced with new functional tissue. In humans, heart regeneration after a heart attack leads to permanent scarring of the heart muscle, which weakens the heart significantly. Lafontant’s work has the long-term potential to influence treatments for humans who have experienced a heart-attack.
  • Dr. Gurnon’s “Variant Analysis with the Rare Genomics Institute” will help the scientific research community better understand how cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology can be used to help patients and families with rare genetic diseases. The project will also help identify ways that undergraduate students can contribute to this effort.DSC 0320
  • Dr. Townsend’s “Scholarly Collaborations in the Sciences to Build Community among Women and Underrepresented Students” project will lead to an improved understanding of the role that video conferencing can play in helping underrepresented students persist in STEM fields by decreasing feelings of isolation through interaction with mentors and role models during video conferences.

An independent federal agency, the NSF funds research and education in science and engineering, through grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements. The Foundation accounts for about 20 percent of federal support to academic institutions for basic research. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.