RENCI taps MIT research scientist to lead infrastructure development efforts

CHAPEL HILL, NC, June 21, 2007–Patrick Dreher, a theoretical nuclear physicist at MIT with years of experience in research computing and information technology strategic planning, will lead the effort to expand the IT infrastructure that supports the work of the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), its engagement sites, and research computing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, RENCI Director Dan Reed announced today.

Dreher will become RENCI’s director of advanced computing infrastructure and systems on July 16. In this role, he will develop and implement a long-range strategy for the installation and operation of the advanced research computing and the advanced cyberinfrastructure needed to support and enhance the statewide mission of RENCI and research at UNC Chapel Hill.

RENCI, a major collaboration among UNC Chapel Hill, Duke University, and North Carolina State University, builds partnerships across academia, government and business and leverages advanced technologies to address issues important to the state of North Carolina. The institute is headquartered at 100 Europa Drive, Chapel Hill, and has established an engagement facility on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus in the new ITS Manning Building, 201 Manning Drive.

RENCI at UNC Chapel Hill will build new collaborations with UNC faculty, showcase experimental visualization and collaborative technologies, and support the campus’ research mission with research computing resources for faculty.  Dreher will initially work from RENCI at UNC Chapel Hill and will support all of RENCI as well as UNC research efforts.

“Patrick has the energy, the experience, and the insight to help RENCI and Carolina continue to build the IT foundation that is critical to support research,” said Reed. “Through his experience as a scientist, he understands the needs of researchers. Through his work developing IT strategy and managing university R&D efforts, he knows what is required to support RENCI’s mission and to make Carolina one of the nation’s foremost public research universities.”

Dreher is a theoretical nuclear physicist whose research area is computational lattice quantum chromodynamics (QCD).  QCD researchers study elementary particles and the physics of strong interactions, one of four fundamental forces in the universe. Dreher currently has MIT-wide responsibilities as project director of the MIT-IT Strategic Planning and Resource Coordination Initiative and serves as co-chair of the Campus Cyberinfrastructure Working Group within EDUCAUSE, a national organization of 15,000 members focused on IT issues in higher education. He also has in-depth R&D and IT management experience as associate director at the MIT Laboratory for Nuclear Science.

Dreher is an expert on developing the cyberinfrastructure needed to support research; he has developed and deployed high performance research computing systems and data centers to support research and initiated strategies for multidisciplinary programs to leverage MIT’s investment in cyberinfrastructure.

“This position offers an incredible opportunity for me to help RENCI and the university achieve their goals.” Dreher said. “The advanced computing capabilities of RENCI and Carolina make this one of the premier technology and research centers in the nation. My aim is to work with researchers to develop and grow the advanced computing infrastructure and systems at RENCI and Carolina to support the kind of research that will have a transformative impact on North Carolina and the world.