SCIENCE & ENGINEERING NEWS
San Diego, CA — Governor Gray Davis announced July 19 that the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technologies [Cal-(IT)2], a joint proposal of UC San Diego and UC Irvine, has been selected among the six finalists to be submitted for final consideration as a California Institute for Science and Innovation. (see http://www.governor.ca.gov/briefing/pressreleases ) Three California Institutes for Science and Innovation, each to be located on a University of California campus, will be chosen in October. The governor’s plan provides $75 million in State funding each year for the next four years to establish the centers; the FY 2000-01 State budget includes the first $75 million installment. The plan also requires $2 from non-State sources for every $1 of State funds devoted to the project.
Larry Smarr, known worldwide for his role in creating the modern information infrastructure, has been named director-designate of the proposed Cal-(IT)2. Smarr joined the UCSD Irwin and Joan Jacobs School of Engineering on July 1, 2000 as a professor of computer science and engineering. Previously, Smarr was the founding director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and was the Director of the National Computational Science Alliance. UCI will name an associate director for Cal-(IT)2 who will also serve as the director of the UCI branch of the Institute.
As proposed, Cal-(IT)2 will conduct research in core technologies needed to expand the reach and capacity of the global wireless Internet and its emerging all-optical core. It will also use the new telecommunications infrastructure to advance applications important to California’s economy including: education, environmental monitoring, health care delivery, transportation, and new media arts. Cal-(IT)2 will help shape innovative government policies to enable all sectors of society to benefit from the new infrastructure while ensuring privacy and security.
UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering Dean Robert Conn led the development of the proposal on behalf of UCSD and engaged the partnership with UCI: “Larry Smarr has provided outstanding leadership and ensured our technical proposal is as powerful as possible. Cal-(IT)2 takes advantage of UC San Diego’s extraordinary programs in communications, high performance computing and networking, as well as in critical application areas. It engages industry partners throughout California, from Silicon Valley to San Diego’s Wireless Valley,” said Conn. “It was remarkable how the faculty and our long-time industry partners came together to produce a such a coherent and compelling vision.”
The proposal is built upon the broad capability of the region, with UCSD as the lead campus, and UCI partnering as a branch. More than 100 faculty and researchers from across the UCSD and UCI campuses are participating in the proposal including members of UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, School of Medicine, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Division of Natural Sciences, Division of Arts and Humanities, Division of Social Sciences and the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. From UCI, the Schools and Divisions include The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, Department of Information and Computer Science, Graduate School of Management, School of the Arts, and the School of Physical Sciences. Cal-(IT)2 involves many important research centers already operating on the campuses that have strong industry ties including UCSD’s San Diego Supercomputer Center, Center for Wireless Communications and Center for Magnetic Recording Research and UCI’s Integrated Nanosystems Research Facility, the Institute for Software Research, and the Center for Pervasive Communications.
Larry Smarr joined UCSD on July 1 as a professor of computer science and engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering. Before coming to UCSD, Smarr was the director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a position he held since 1985. He was also the Director of the National Computational Science Alliance, comprised of over fifty universities, government labs, and corporations linked with NCSA in a national-scale virtual enterprise to prototype the information infrastructure of the 21st Century.
“I look forward to the exciting challenge of working on what I consider to be the research frontiers of the future including the wireless Internet, nanotechnology and genome-enabled medicine,” says Smarr. “San Diego is the place to be. Not only does the region have one of the nation’s best research universities, it also has a high technology industry base which is thriving in these frontier areas.”
“Dr. Smarr is an extraordinary visionary,” said Conn. “He is a pioneer in the creation of the national information infrastructure to support academic research, governmental functions, and industrial competitiveness. California, UCSD and the Jacobs School of Engineering will benefit tremendously from his leadership.”
In 1983, Smarr initiated the first proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) recommending development of a national supercomputer center. This resulted in the creation of the NCSA and four other national supercomputer centers, including the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD.
For the last fifteen years, Smarr led NCSA as it trailblazed the modern information infrastructure. He argued strongly for the construction of the first national NSF backbone, which connected the five NSF supercomputer centers in 1986, and rapidly evolved, first into the NSFnet, and then into today’s commercial Internet. NCSA greatly broadened the participation in the rapidly growing Net by its creation and distribution of NCSA Telnet in 1985, the most popular way to log onto the Internet for many years. The development of NCSA Mosaic and NCSA’s Web server software transformed the Internet into the Web, directly leading to the commercial web browsers and servers universally used today. NCSA also pioneered the style of distributing software freely over the Internet, which has become the standard for the web market today.
During this period, Smarr worked very closely with industry to assure early adoption of new technologies. NCSA’s Industrial Partner program has, since the beginning of NCSA, closely coupled to leaders of the major categories of the economy such as JP Morgan, Motorola, Caterpillar, American Airlines, Eastman Kodak, Allstate Insurance, Sears, Boeing, Shell Oil, and Kellogg’s. Smarr, in his role as Director of NCSA, has analyzed future products with many of the leading companies creating today’s information infrastructure such as SGI, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Compaq, Sun Microsystems, Intel, Microsoft, Ameritech, AT&T, Qwest, MCI, Cisco, and EMC.
In October, 1997, Smarr became the Director of the National Computational Science Alliance. He also began and continues to serve on a number of high-level government committees such as the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH.
Smarr is a tireless advocate championing the revolutionary nature of the Information Age. His views on the Internet, supercomputers, and computational science have been quoted widely in publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Business Week, and Science. In November 1998 he was the subject of the Red Herring Profile.
Smarr, 49, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri, a master’s at Stanford University, and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin (all are in Physics). He then conducted postdoctoral research at Princeton, Yale, and Cambridge universities. For the three years before he joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1979, Smarr was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard University Society of Fellows. An internationally recognized astrophysicist, Dr. Smarr has conducted observational, theoretical, and computational based research in relativistic astrophysics for fifteen years before he became Director of NCSA.
Smarr is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1990 he received the Franklin Institute’s Delmer S. Fahrney Medal for Leadership in Science or Technology. He has co-authored with William Kaufmann III, the book, “Supercomputing and the Transformation of Science” .