Stanley C. Ahalt is director of the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the head of the Biomedical Informatics Core for the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS). He is principal investigator for the Water Science Software Institute project, which seeks to build a cyberinfrastructure for managing, sharing and using water science data. As director of RENCI, he was instrumental in launching two major data science initiatives: The National Consortium for Data Science (NCDS), a public-private partnership to address big data challenges and opportunities in research and business; and iRODS, an effort to develop a branch of the popular integrated Rule-Oriented Data System as enterprise-quality software, complete with rigorous testing and a robust, feature-rich code base.
Dr. Ahalt serves as a member of the executive board of the iRODS Consortium, an international group focused on long-term sustainability of the iRODS data management platform. He is also a co-PI with the DataNet Federation Consortium, a National Science Foundation project to prototype an integrated platform for sharing, using and managing data across distances and scientific fields. Other leadership roles include past chair of the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computing, former co-chair of the Ohio Broadband Council, extramural member of the National Cancer Institute’s Advanced Biomedical Computing Center’s Oversight Committee, and member of the Council on Competitiveness High Performance Computing Advisory Committee. He has authored or co-authored more than 120 technical papers and been principal investigator or co-principal investigator on research grants totaling more than $17 million. His recent research publications have focused on decoupling data through encryption.
Before coming to RENCI in 2009, Dr. Ahalt was executive director of the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) from 2003 – 2009 and a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The Ohio State University for 22 years. Ahalt launched several model programs at OSC, including Blue Collar Computing, a national program to bring high performance computing to a wide spectrum of industries and applications, and OSCnet, a leading high-speed research network for K-12 schools, higher education and economic development. He holds a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Clemson University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
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Ashok Krishnamurthy became deputy director of RENCI in February 2013. Previously, he was director of research and scientific development at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) and an associate professor in the computer and electrical engineering department at The Ohio State University. He also served as OSC’s co-interim executive director from September 2009 to August 2012. His work focuses on managing and enhancing research partnerships with faculty at UNC Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina State University, building relationships between RENCI and Triangle area businesses, and leading efforts to bring new federal research funding to RENCI and its partner institutions.
Krishnamurthy played a crucial role in establishing OSC’s successful industrial outreach initiative called Blue Collar Computing. The program targets small and medium-sized businesses that lack high performance computing resources, providing them with the training, expertise, and advanced technology tools they need to enhance their companies’ competitiveness. He also helped develop and deploy cyberinfrastructure that allows researchers to easily access and use computing and storage resources at OSC.
Before his work at OSC and OSU, he served as the academic lead for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) High Performance Computing Modernization Program in the Integrated Modeling and Test area. He has designed and provided numerous training courses for DoD User Groups on all aspects of the MATLAB programming language.
Krishnamurthy holds PhD and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. His areas of expertise include high performance computing (HPC), cyberinfrastructure, data exploitation, HPC in industry, American competitiveness initiatives, signal and image processing, and software development.
Ilya Baldin leads RENCI’s network research and infrastructure programs. He is a networking researcher with a wide range of interests, including high-speed optical network architectures, cross-layer interactions, novel signaling schemes, and network security. Before coming to RENCI, Baldin was the principal scientist at the Center for Advanced Network Research at the Research Triangle Institute and a network research engineer at the Advanced Network Research group at MCNC, where he was a team member and a leader of a number of federally funded research efforts. He holds PhD and MS degrees in computer science from North Carolina State University.
Brian Blanton is RENCI’s director of environmental initiatives and a coastal oceanographer with 15+ years of experience in coastal hazards and risk assessment, high performance computing, and earth sciences data analysis. He co-leads the Environmental Sciences group with Ray Idaszak, building connections between water-themed sciences and applications through sustainable software development and data management practices. His research usually involves applications of the storm-surge and wind-wave model ADCIRC, for problems such as how the Federal Emergency Management Agency computes coastal floodplain statistics, rapid statistical forecasting of storm surge, and risk-based coastal evacuation routing. He is also leading RENCI’s efforts in bridging the gap between academic research and industrial applications through NSF’s Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers program. He earned a PhD (2003) in Marine Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a BS (1991) in mathematics from Armstrong State College in Savannah, Georgia.
Brand Fortner is executive director of the iRODS Consortium and adjunct professor of physics at UNC Chapel Hill and at North Carolina State University. Fortner was most recently a research professor in physics at NCSU, and he is considered an expert in accessible scientific visualization and in technical data formats. He previously was chief scientist of the intelligence exploitation group of the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, he and is the founder of two scientific software companies (Spyglass, Inc and Fortner Software, LLC). Fortner previously held positions at NASA and at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and he has written two books on color vision and technical data. He holds a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Illinois and funded a chair in astrophysics at that university, along with a chair in physics at NCSU. He also cosponsors a film festival at the University of Illinois.
Rob Fowler directs RENCI’s high performance computing research projects, including efforts to analyze the effectiveness of high-end systems in serving the needs of scientists and to develop software tools that enhance the performance of grid-enabled applications. Fowler was previously a senior research scientist in the department of computer science and associate director of the Center for High Performance Software Research at Rice University. He has served on the computer science faculty, in both regular and visiting positions, at several universities, including Rice, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Rochester and the University of Washington. He holds a PhD and master’s in computer science from the University of Washington and a physics degree from Harvard College.
John Gallagher oversees financial and business operations for RENCI and is also responsible for human resource management for all RENCI employees, contractors, and students. Prior to joining RENCI, Gallagher was the assistant vice chancellor for financial planning and human resources for Information Technology Services at UNC-Chapel Hill. He also served as director of the pre-award section of the Office of Sponsored Research, where he managed pre-award research administration for the university. Before coming to UNC, he was a business manager at Lockheed Martin on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, subcontract manager on NASA’s Space Station, a contract administrator for Science Applications International Corp. and senior buyer for the Stanford Research Institute. Gallagher holds a business administration degree from Western Washington University.
Karen Green is RENCI’s director of communication and outreach. She manages all the institute’s internal and external communications, media relations, events and websites, and oversees RENCI’s education and outreach activities. She spent eight years at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), first as public information officer and later as associate director of public affairs. She worked as a communications specialist with University of Illinois Extension and has been a communications consultant for technology businesses and nonprofit organizations. Before her career in public affairs management, Green was a newspaper feature writer and columnist. Her writing, editing, and communications management efforts have won recognition from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Association of Women in Communication, the International Association of Business Communicators, and the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association.
Ray Idaszak is RENCI’s director of collaborative environments. He leads a team of software developers, software engineers, and visualization specialists in diffusing advanced software engineering, open source, and visualization techniques in large sponsored research projects. Prior to joining RENCI, Idaszak spent 12 years as chief technology officer and member of the board of directors of a large display company, where the products his team brought to market earned several industry awards. He was the first technical staff member of the NCSA Visualization Group and later formed the initial MCNC Visualization Group, where he also co-founded the open source International AVS Center. His work has appeared in magazines including National Geographic, Time, Scientific American Discover, Britannica’s Science and Future, and on the PBS shows NOVA and The Infinite Voyage. Idaszak has 12 patents and holds a computer science engineering degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
David A. Knowles is RENCI’s director of economic development and regional engagement. He works with staff at RENCI engagement centers in the Triangle area and across the state, helping them building partnerships with faculty and community groups that can benefit from using the advanced visualization infrastructure at the centers. Knowles came to RENCI from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was the business development manager for the Southeastern Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, a division of the university’s Economic Development Institute. Previously, Knowles was vice president of operations for Interra International, Inc., an international food trading company, and chief operating officer of International Trade Management, Inc., an Atlanta area firm that develops transactional software for food producers. His sales, operations, and business development work have taken him to Russia, Eastern and Western Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia.
Charles Schmitt provides technical leadership and management for RENCI biological and medical science related projects in the areas of patient monitoring, systems biology, and genomics. Prior to joining RENCI, Schmitt was the senior computer scientist at BD Technologies, Research Triangle Park, where he assisted in software development and bioinformatics support for programs in stem cell research, immune function, medical diagnostics, genomics, and proteomics. He also served as the primary architect and developer of the MPM software informatics platform. Schmitt is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, Institute of Electrical Engineers, and the International Society for Computational Biology. He holds a BS in physics and a PhD in computer science from UNC-Chapel Hill.