CHAPEL HILL, NC, Nov. 8, 2007–The Renaissance Computing Institute, launched in 2004 to build partnerships and apply advanced technologies to complex, multidisciplinary problems, enters a new stage in December as founder Daniel A. Reed joins Microsoft Research and Deputy Director Alan Blatecky takes the helm as interim director.
Reed will become Microsoft’s director of scalable computing and multicore starting Dec 3. Reed launched RENCI in 2004 after leading the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois from 2000-2003 and the computer science department at Illinois from 1996-2001. He came to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003 and currently is Chancellor’s Eminent Professor and senior adviser for strategy and innovation to Chancellor James Moeser. Reed will become chair of RENCI’s external advisory committee.
Reed and Blatecky shepherded RENCI through its start-up phase in 2004–2005, supported by seed money from UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina State University. In the last two years, Reed has overseen enormous growth and expansion at RENCI, which now employs about 100 professionals at its anchor site in Chapel Hill, the three Research Triangle area campuses and at UNC Asheville, UNC Charlotte and East Carolina University in Greenville. RENCI programs span the arts, humanities and sciences with particular focus on two issues critical to North Carolina: how to better predict, plan for and mitigate disasters and how to enhance biomedical research and improve health-care delivery.
“I have been an academic and high-performance computing researcher all of my professional life,” said Reed. “However, the chance to affect the future of computing on the largest scale at Microsoft was irresistible, both as a researcher and as a builder of large-scale systems. The transition to multicore–or multiple processors per chip–and the emergence of very large-scale data centers that deliver Web-based services are fundamental changes in computing with deep implications. This technological sea change will reshape computing, research, the economy and our lives for years to come.
“I came to North Carolina with a vision for a multidisciplinary institute that leveraged computing to enrich and empower research and education, support economic development and advance social issues,” he continued. “RENCI is the realization of that dream. I’m proud of our accomplishments and the professional staff who have given their time and talents to develop collaborations that are making a difference in North Carolina. Under Alan’s leadership, RENCI will continue to set the example for how partnerships and innovative technologies can solve important problems.”
Moeser praised Reed’s ability to turn big ideas into reality. “We are grateful for all of Dan’s efforts to successfully launch RENCI and its strategic partnerships with other universities and the state of North Carolina,” he said. “His service in national leadership positions addressing important science and technology issues has also brought an invaluable perspective to our thinking about the research enterprise at the university. We wish Dan the very best in his new pursuits at Microsoft. I am also confident that Alan Blatecky will provide excellent leadership during this transition period.”
Blatecky has long been a key player in developing information technology infrastructure for both North Carolina and the nation. He was executive director of the North Carolina Networking Initiative for three years and a vice president at MCNC (formerly the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina) from 1993-2001. Blatecky was executive director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center and directed the National Science Foundation’s National Middleware Initiative, an effort to develop the underlying software foundation needed for a nationwide cyberinfrastructure to support science and research. He serves on the Program Management Board for Enabling Grids for E-Science in Europe and on many advisory committees, including the Long Term Ecological Research project, the Biomedical Informatics Research Network and the International Research Network Connections project. He recently rotated off the Open Grid Forum and Internet2 Applications Strategy Council.
“It has been tremendously exhilarating and satisfying to work with Dan these past four years and to see RENCI grow from an idea into a thriving organization that helps our state address key issues,” said Blatecky. “The next few years will be even more exciting, as RENCI continues to mature and build new partnerships and research projects with government, business and our university communities.”