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August 07, 2012
Aug. 7 -- Alan Craig, research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), recently was named Digital Humanities Specialist for the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) project. In this new role, Craig will bridge the gap between traditional supercomputing users and those in the humanities, arts, and social sciences (HASS). Craig brings 25 years of experience connecting users to high-performance and high-throughput computing (HPC and HTC) resources, and his appointment will allow him to promote and facilitate the use of XSEDE resources among researchers who traditionally have not been users of HPC and HTC.
"I think the fact that XSEDE opened this position attests to the fact that XSEDE takes the needs of the HASS community seriously and that it can benefit both the XSEDE community and the HASS community to work together," Craig said.
Sergiu Sanielevici, who leads XSEDE's Novel and Innovative Projects (NIP) program, said Craig is a vital link between the HASS community and traditional HPC users — like Sanielevici — from hard sciences and engineering disciplines. "It is very hard for us to know who is ready to use XSEDE and what they will need to become successful users," said Sanielevici. He said that Alan can use his experience and relationships with the HASS community to "determine which teams are most ready and likely to benefit from XSEDE services and translate their needs into requirements (XSEDE needs) to meet in order to successfully support their projects."
Novel applications of technology, especially in education, permeate Craig's work. He helped pioneer the use of sound to depict scientific data. Now he is blurring the boundary between the real and digital worlds using augmented reality, which superimposes artificial enhancements on reality in real time using any of the five senses.
Craig also serves as the senior associate director for human-computer interaction for the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) at the University of Illinois and as principal investigator for the National Science Foundation-funded Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER), awarded through I-CHASS to support development of an augmented reality application for mobile devices like smartphones and iPads. Using this technology, students can simulate archeological digs in their classrooms, interact with 3D molecules in their chemistry textbook from any perspective, and learn about native fauna using 3D color images where before there were only black-and-white sketches.
For a newer project, Craig will create a multimedia database using XSEDE's Gordon, a data-intensive supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) that went into production at the beginning of 2012. The database will facilitate academic analysis of digital media.
Craig's goal in his new appointment is to help users communicate the "hidden story" in their data using visualizations and make their data widely accessible through online publication.
"I believe Alan Craig's appointment as liaison for HASS with XSEDE is a milestone moment," said Kevin Franklin, executive director of I-CHASS. Franklin said it will "not only have a profound impact on HASS scholarship but will impact those disciplines that choose to pursue more interdisciplinary research."
Nancy Wilkins-Diehr, director of consulting, training and documentation at SDSC and co-manager of XSEDE's Extended Collaborative Support Services, said, "We conducted a national search, advertising in major HPC venues, and were happy to find Alan right under our noses at NCSA."
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