posted November 7, 2014

MSI’s newest supercomputer, an HP system, now has a name: Mesabi.

The Mesabi Range is the largest of the four major iron deposits in northern Minnesota that collectively make up the area known as the Iron Range. It is the chief deposit of iron ore in the U.S. The name comes from an Ojibwe word meaning “immense mountain.” This name also ties in with an informal term for supercomputers, “Big Iron.”

Three people independently nominated “Mesabi” as the name for our new machine during MSI’s New Supercomputer Naming Contest. We had over 140 nominations. A group of staff members selected the top five names, and these finalists were voted on by the entire MSI staff to select the final winner.

The three nominators were:
Aaron Barnes
Paul Lindstrom
an anonymous nominator

Thanks to everyone who participated in the naming contest.

See the Status Page for Mesabi's installation and testing.



posted on October 30, 2014

In conjunction with the Zooniverse@UMN initiative, MSI is pleased to announce a Request for Proposals soliciting project proposals from U of Minnesota-affiliated research groups that have text-based projects that would benefit from hundreds of thousands of online volunteers transcribing or metadata tagging your digitally imaged collection.

The Zooniverse is home to wildly successful projects that use crowdsourcing to advance scientific research. MSI has supported a project called Ancient Lives, which uses the help of amateurs to translate the Oxyrhynchus papyri, a collection that consists of over 500,000 fragments dating from 150 BCE and is held at Oxford University (U.K.).

The proposal due date window is November 24 - December 15, 2014. Please note that the Expression of Interest is not required.

Questions should be addressed to

Download the Request for Proposals.

See more about Zooniverse projects.


posted October 23, 2014

In an article that appeared this week in the journal PLoS Medicine, Assistant Professor Katy Kozhimannil and her colleagues studied rates of cesarean sections in hospitals across the U.S. The results indicate that variations in these rates may have more to do with the hospitals’ culture rather than the health of the mother. More research is needed to further confirm these results.

Professor Kozhimannil is in the Division of Health Policy and Management in the School of Public Health. She uses MSI resources for her research into the quality of childbirth-related care and other women’s health services in the U.S. This research uses large databases and resource-intensive analyses using SAS.

The article can be read on the PLoS Medicine website. It has received attention from a number of news sources, including Medical News Today, the Pioneer Press, the Star Tribune, KSTP-TV, and WCCO-TV.

posted October 22, 2014

MSI Principal Investigator Jakub Tolar, an associate professor of pediatrics in the Medical School, has an ally in Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. Professor Tolar studies a rare skin disorder called epidermolysis bullosa (EB). This painful, disfiguring disease causes very fragile skin that blisters or breaks easily. Vedder is the co-founder of a non-profit organization called EB Research Partnership, which is raising funds to help find a cure. Professor Tolar uses MSI resources for his research into EB, especially the mechanisms of the pain and itching associated with it.

Mr. Vedder and bandmate Stone Gossard toured the University’s facilities last week. In return, Professor Tolar was honored onstage at the Pearl Jam concert in St. Paul on Saturday night. NBC’s Today show featured Pearl Jam’s visit to the U and Professor Tolar’s work. An article, including videos, can be found on their website.

posted on October 13, 2014

MSI Principal Investigator Marc Hillmyer, a chemistry professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Polymers, appeared recently on the Twin Cities television station WCCO as part of their “Good Question” series. Professor Hillmyer’s topic was “Why do we use so much plastic?” An article as well as video of the television segment appear on the WCCO website.