MSI is pleased to announce that Jeff McDonald is the new MSI Assistant Director of HPC Operations, effective January 26, 2011.
The December 18 issue of The Economist highlights the work being done by the not-for-profit Planetary Skin Institute (PSI), created by Cisco Systems and NASA, on measurement of the extent and health of the world's forests. Key to that effort has been the data-mining work led by Professor Vipin Kumar (MSI Fellow, Computer Science and Engineering). Professor Kumar and his collaborators participated in the United Nations recent climate change conference in Cancun and gave a joint presentation there with the PSI and NASA.
MSI Principal Investigator and Associate Fellow Elizabeth Amin, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, was highlighted in the OVPR's Research News Online. You can read the article on the OVPR website.
The EOLOS consortium led by the University of Minnesota and supported by a US Department of Energy grant has a new website ( up. The consortium was established to create collaboration between universities, government organizations, and industry in hopes of learning more about wind powered energy. Members of the consortium have used MSI’s Itasca supercomputer to perform simulations of turbine flow and modeling of the atmosphere.
MSI participated in the College of Science and Engineering’s Math and Science Family Fun Fair on Saturday, November 13th. More than 200 kids and their parents came to MSI’s booth at Coffman Union. The families were able to see first-hand how supercomputers are helping researchers at the University of Minnesota and beyond by getting to experiment with some computing equipment and view some of our 3-D visualizations. Pictures from the event are available.
MSI, and more specifically, our Itasca supercomputer, was recently featured on a television program called "The Global Learning Series.” In the video you will see former MSI Director Tom Jones, as well as University of Minnesota chemistry professor and MSI Fellow, Darrin York, talk about the development of computers over time, the importance of supercomputing at a research institution and how modern supercomputers work. The program will be used as interstitial programming on a network of 349 public television stations across the country.  
In Summer 2010, MSI made available to its users its newest supercomputer, named Itasca, and Itasca is already making a world of difference to researchers at the university. Charles Campbell, a University of Minnesota physics and astronomy professor uses MSI to study layered quantum magnets. He says of Itasca, "Our research has benefitted tremendously from being able to use Itasca. Some of our calculations are so intensive that they are simply impracticable without it.”
Intel has recently released a case study about their Xeon processors and software-development products that spotlights MSI. The study discusses our two newest systems, Itasca and Koronis. Koronis will be available to users later this year.
MSI has recently been awarded an NIH grant to purchase a new SGI Altix UV 1000 supercomputer, which will be called "Koronis." This machine will be used by MSI researchers working on a number of NIH-funded projects in the areas of multi-scale modeling, chemical dynamics, bioinformatics and computational biology, and biomedical imaging. The Principal Investigator on the grant is Professor Darrin York (Chemistry, MSI Fellow).
Professor and MSI Fellow Vipin Kumar (Computer Science and Engineering) will be leading an interdisciplinary team from the University of Minnesota and other universities nationwide in a $10 million NSF project to study climate change. Professor Kumar's group uses MSI resources to develop the high-performance data-mining algorithms used in this research. The supercomputers are necessary because of the huge size of the datasets involved. The UMNews story has further details.
Professor and MSI Fellow Jiali Gao of the Department of Chemistry and the Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology Program was recently named winner of the global annual IBM Faculty Award. The award recognizes Professor Gao's research in the development of quantum mechanical methods. Some of this research was done using MSI resources. Professor Gao has been an MSI Fellow since 1998.
On July 31, 2010, Professor Tom Jones, Department of Astronomy and MSI Fellow, stepped down after serving as MSI Interim Director for two years.
MSI is very happy to report that Jorge Vinals has accepted the offer to become the next MSI Director. He will also become a professor of physics. Jorge will assume the directorship on August 1, 2010.
During Summer 2010, MSI hosted two courses for grad students and postdocs in association with the Virtual School of Computational Science and Engineering (VSCSE) of the Center for Computational Science (Miami, Florida). The VSCSE brings together faculty from throughout the country to create courses that focus on petascale computing and petascale-enabled science and engineering. MSI hosted Petascale Programming Environments and Tools (July 6-9, 2010) and Big Data for Science (July 26-30, 2010).
On July 1, Brian Ropers-Huilman, MSI Director of Systems Administration and Technical Operations, spoke to a group of seventh-grade students about MSI, high-performance computing, and programming for computers. The students are taking a class in Math and Programming as part of the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth's "Expand Your Mind" Program. Mr. Ropers-Huilman also took the class and their teacher on a tour of the MSI machine room to show them the supercomputers.
The University of Minnesota's latest solar car took second in the biennial American Solar Challenge race. This year's race went from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Chicago, Illinois on June 19-26, 2010. The vehicle, named Centaurus II, was designed and built by University of Minnesota students. Team members used MSI supercomputers for modeling airflow around the shell of the vehicle. An article about the Solar Vehicle Project's work appeared in the Summer 2009 Research Bulletin.
On June 14th, a group of high school students began their week at Exploring Careers in Engineering and Physical Science (ECEPS) summer sessions with an all-day session at the Supercomputing Institute. The seminar, Molecular Modeling with Super(duper)computers, allowed the students to explore some simple, but robust, models that let chemists make predictions about things like sweetness, drug activity, gas pressures, and fuel values, using the software available at MSI.
Research Exhibition prize winners and pictures are now linked from the MSI 25th Anniversary Research Exhibition page.
Two MSI Principal Investigators have recently won prestigious awards: Regents Professor Ron Phillips (Agronomy and Plant Genetics) has been awarded the ISA 2010 Medal for Science Regents Professor David Tilman (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) has been awarded the Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences More information can be found on the University Relations People page.
Blue Waters, which is expected to be the world’s most powerful supercomputer for open scientific research when it goes online in 2011, is already providing researchers with opportunities for state-of-the-art computing research. Professor and MSI Fellow Paul Woodward (Astronomy) is one of the astrophysicists using Blue Waters. See a brief discussion on HPCWire.