If you’ve ever wondered how the UNC campus community uses the Social Computing Room that RENCI built and deployed in the ITS Manning Building, final exams offered a glimpse of how useful the room can be.
Instead of the typical final exam, students in Geography 445 held a finals week poster session in the room where they showcased their research projects (created by peer groups rather than individuals) and had a chance to assess the projects done by other groups. The results were interaction and lively discussion on a wide range of topics, from understanding how multi-drug resistant tuberculosis spreads in Peru to an analysis of the relationship between food insecurity and obesity in North Carolina. The class was taught by Ashley R. Ward, PhD, a lecturer in the geography department.
The Social Computing Room is a square room with a floor-to-ceiling desktop on all four walls, making it ideal for presenting large volumes of information, interactions with data, and group projects that involve multimedia. For a quick peak at the Geography 445 poster session, check out this YouTube video.
Researchers today work at the computer as much as in the field or in the lab, often grabbing computing resources and applications from research centers and cloud sites across the country or the world. However, data sets are typically centralized, and computation is built around the data as permanent function. As a result, research infrastructure is very expensive to maintain, and hard to share and adapt, even in the age of big data, where research data sets can be widely distributed.
RENCI’s Networking Research Group aims to make distributed, data-intensive research more flexible and collaboration friendly. Through a project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) project, they are working to connect networked cloud sites as needed to provide resources and applications for experimentation and discovery, and production activities, including data-intensive computing.
The buzz phrase for their work is Networked Infrastructure as a Service (NIaaS), a model that allows for provisioning of network functions alongside compute and storage resource provisioning. The RENCI project is ExoGENI, a joint effort with Duke University and IBM that links NSF GENI resources to open cloud computing resources and dynamic circuit fabrics that allow users to specify the network services they need for their job in real time.
ExoGENI offers a glimpse of how research networks and the next version of the Internet could operate. You can read about it now in a new RENCI White Paper: Visions of a Future Internet: The ExoGENI Example.
Several RENCI researchers will be presenting at one of the biggest international metadata research conferences next week in Thessaloniki, Greece. The seventh International Conference on Metadata and Semantics Research (MTSR’13) will bring together scholars and practitioners within the interdisciplinary field of metadata, linked data and ontologies. Participants will share knowledge and best practices in the implementation of these technologies.
Metadata applications span a diverse set of platforms including cultural informatics; open access repositories (digital libraries), E-learning applications; search engine optimization and information retrieval; research information systems and infrastructures; e-science and e-social science applications; agriculture and food; environment and ecology; and bio-health & medical information systems.
RENCI researchers Reagan Moore, Chief Domain Scientist, and Mary Whitton, Senior Project Manager, contributed to a paper entitled “Advancing the DFC Semantic Technology Platform via HIVE Innovation” which details the DataNet Federation Consortium’s (DFC) efforts to develop metadata grids for multidisciplinary research. The HIVE project is being integrated into iRODS in the DFC architecture to provide a scaleable linked open data approach to scientific data sharing.
Data Management Research Scientist, Terrell Russell, and Data Intensive Cyber Environments staff, Antoine de Torcy, both also from RENCI, contributed to a different paper for the conference, entitled “Using Metadata to Facilitate Understanding And Certification of Assertions about the Preservation Properties of a Preservation System”. This paper details a method to assist developers of preservation repositories to verify that their archival recommendations are being applied, as well as ensure the application of preservation policies.
The co-chair of the conference is Jane Greenberg, a professor in UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science
(SILS) and the Director of the Metadata Research Center. Greenberg is also one of the 2014 National Consortium for Data Science (NCDS) new Data Science Fellows.
All papers from the conference are being published in the online journal Communications in Computer and Information Science (Springer), Volume 390. Congrats to our scientists and have a great time in Greece!
As we delve further into the era of large-scale computing, new and ever-more challenging problems present themselves for solving. Google Fellow, Luiz Andre Barroso, will be coming to Duke University on Nov. 18, 2013 to deliver a lecture entitled “Three Hard Problems in Large-Scale Computing” where he will present three examples of these types of problems, drawn from his experience with operating large computing systems at Google.
Dr. Barroso’s interests cover a wide variety of technical topics, from distributed systems software to computing platform design. He co-wrote The Datacenter as a Computer, the first textbook to describe the architecture of warehouse-scale computing systems, as well as a National Academies Report entitled “The Future of Computing Performance: Game Over or Next Level?”. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Pontificia Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and his Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from the University of Southern California. Dr. Barroso is an ACM Fellow and AAAS Fellow and serves on the National Academies’ Computer Science and Telecommunications Board.
The lecture will take place from 4:00-5:00pm at North 311 at Duke. The event is part of the Triangle Computer Science Distinguished Lecturer Series. Contact Alvin R. Lebeck at firstname.lastname@example.org directly for scheduling or questions.
RENCI Senior Research Software Architect Michael Shoffner will be featured in a live O’Reilly Media webinar tomorrow, Nov. 7, at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST). Shoffner, who is also an adjunct faculty member in the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), will be speaking about “Turning Bigger Data Into Better Healthcare: The direction clinical medicine is heading in the age of Big Data.” Shoffner’s talk will address one of the most important challenges facing the health care industry today: we now have more health-related data than ever before, but the technology to analyze this large influx of data is lacking.
Not only must healthcare data technology scale to petabytes of clinical genomics data, but it must also weave together data management with cybersecurity, on-demand analysis, and data-driven decision support for health professionals. It must assist patients and healthcare providers with the technology logistics of managing complex data, as well as provide protection for healthcare institutions by mitigating liability arising from protected health information.
Shoffner is the lead on RENCI’s Secure Medical Workspace (SMW) project, helping to develop the SMW system for UNC Hospitals in collaboration with NC TraCS and SILS. The SMW system was designed by combining a secure centralized infrastructure with virtualization and data leakage protection technologies to allow researchers to manipulate and analyze research data while ensuring that sensitive patient information remains within the SMW. Shoffner is now leading his team to pilot the next version of the software, which will have an increased security profile, be easier for researchers to use and provide an increased security profile.
The webcast will use the SMW project as an example to describe the direction clinical medicine is heading in the age of big data, highlighting key initiatives and challenges. It will be available for viewing at O’Reilly.org and you can register to attend the virtual event at http://bit.ly/1b7HIiO.
RENCI Senior Research Scientist Ketan Mane has been busy presenting on a topic that he understands well: How to help clinicians use patient data to improve their diagnosis and treatment decisions with easy-to-use, Web-based analytics.
Mane was part of a panel who presented at a Big Data and Healthcare webinar sponsored by the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) on Oct. 23, where he talked about breakthroughs in health informatics and data visualization. He also had a paper accepted for presentation at the Workshop in Visual Analytics for Healthcare, which will be held in conjunction with the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) meeting on Nov. 16 in Washington, DC.
Interestingly, two of the three panelists who were part of the MHTA webinar had RENCI connections. The other was Dr. Keith Kocis, of UNC Hospitals, who talked about the Hospital Monitoring Project. That project created a system for monitoring data from infants in intensive care units so that caregivers can spot trends and react to potential problems before they become crises. RENCI partnered with Kocis on the visual analytics that allows doctors and nurses to easily–and visually–decipher the monitoring data.
RENCI’s Sharlini Sankaran, the Executive Director of REACH NC, will be speaking about the program on UNC-TV on October 16 at 3:15 p.m. She will be speaking about what REACH NC is and why it is important.
The REACH NC program began as a way to allow North Carolina to tap into its own pool of experts and resources. It uses RENCI-developed technology to create a Web portal that enables users to search, browse and find thousands of experts and assets within North Carolina higher education and research institutions. REACH NC’s expert profiles can assist people in industry, community groups and university personnel in efforts to find information and potential collaborators for research and problem-solving.
Sharlini will also be explaining how the REACH NC system works and give some examples of success stories to illustrate to viewers how important this system is.
Paper authors (from right) Justin Zhan, Howard Lander, and Arcot Rajasekar with one of the conference’s keynote speakers, Tom Mitchell of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science.
Congratulations to RENCI staff Arcot Rajasekar, Sharlini Sankaran, and Howard Lander, whom, along with other collaborators, won the best paper award at the ASE/IEEE International Conference on Big Data! The conference paper acceptance rate is 8.5%, and their paper, entitled “The data bridge: Sociometric methods for long-tail scientific data”, was one of only two winners of the award.
The ASE/IEEE Conference was held in Washington D.C. from Sept. 8-14, and brought together scientists, researchers and scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results in Advancing Big Data Science & Engineering.
To create an interactive image to demonstrate the effects of major tropical storms and storm surge in the future, National Geographic magazine turned to RENCI for assistance. Senior Research Scientist Brian Blanton helped the magazine staff interpret data they received from NOAA and the Army Corps of Engineers on what Manhattan would look like if a storm the size of Hurricane Sandy hit in 100 years, when sea level could be as much five feet higher than it is now. The info graphic, which appeared online and in a center spread in the print magazine, uses data from the Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) modeling program, which was developed by the National Weather Service to estimate surge heights.
The graphic is part of a feature called “Rising Seas,” which analyzes the potential impacts and dangers of rising sea levels due to climate change. The image gives viewers a visual understanding of this hazard. The surge from Hurricane Sandy flooded many subway tunnels, knocked out lower Manhattan’s power grid, and caused widespread damage of cars and buildings. This postulated future flood would surge farther and deeper into the city, causing even greater damage unless new methods of mitigating surge effects are developed.
Check out the graphic and the full feature story here: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/rising-seas/superstorm-surge-graphic
RENCI collaborations are winning awards all over! The Research, Engagement, and Capabilities Hub of North Carolina (REACH NC) was recently selected as a finalist in the University Economic Development Association’s (UEDA) 2013 Awards of Excellence competition, in the Leadership & Collaboration category.
REACH NC is a searchable Web-based tool that allows scientists, academics, researchers and the business community to access profiles of experts at universities and research organizations across the state, in order to find people and resources needed to build research teams or to provide expert advice. The web interface compiles data from research publications, research grant awards and other sources to make it easier for faculty, university administrators, government agencies and the public to discover people with a particular expertise.
The REACH NC team, includes Sharlini Sankaran (REACH NC Executive Director) and Monica Schledorn, who work closely with David Knowles, RENCI’s director of engagement and economic development. RENCI data experts built the data backbone for REACH NC and developed protocols for user access and data management and storage. RENCI staff also designed and implemented the Web front end for the tool. Hong Yi, a RENCI senior research software developer, created information visualizations that group experts by their areas of expertise and professional backgrounds.
Sankaran will give a presentation on the project at the UEDA Annual Summit in Pittsburgh in October. Summit participants will evaluate the finalists and select a winner in each award category.
We wish our team all the best of luck!