NSF awards $20M to jazz up university research networks

National Science Foundation looks to bolster research networks

The National Science Foundation this week said it spread $20 million across 17 universities or state education groups to enhance broadband access and bolster Internet connectivity for academic research at schools.

According to the NSF the money is part of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research program, which supports states that have less extensive scientific infrastructures and have typically received less federal cash. Each of these awards will provide just over $1 million for up to two years to support the enhancement of cyber connectivity among educational institutions across the state, the NSF stated.

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The seventeen awards and what the cash help build, according to the NSF:  

  • University of Alabama, Huntsville: Alabama researchers will develop a nano-bio-sensors database that will be used over an upgraded connection between the HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology, Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, and the Alabama Research and Education Network (AREN) backbone. This award will also support improved connectivity with schools across the state and to national and international research and education networks.
  • University of Delaware: Four goals will be pursued: 1) to close gaps in key intra-campus network systems at all four of Delaware's leading institutions--the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Wesley College and Delaware Technical & Community College; 2) to catalyze the development of a statewide environmental monitoring and analysis center; 3) to promote broad-based education in spatial technologies; and 4) to enhance cyber-based environmental outreach by establishing a new partnership with the Delaware Nature Society.
  • University of Hawaii: The award will let the University of Hawaii System, which comprises all public higher education institutions in Hawaii including community colleges, provide new inter-island connections among four specific locations that are most critical to Hawaii's research program in biodiversity. The project will provide 10 Gbps connectivity among these key locations, and the design will be extensible to all public higher education institutions in Hawaii.
  • University of Idaho: Building on the success of the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON), which has been proactive in making the Internet available to a broad-base of constituents in rural Idaho, the money will address significant gaps in cyber connectivity and broadband access at two-year, four-year, and rural institutions. The activity will be anchored by the University of Idaho and Boise State University, charter associates of IRON, and will provide high bandwidth and rapid connectivity with low latency to national, regional, and state resources.
  • University of Kansas Center for Research: The award enable improvements to the shared network infrastructure connecting Kansas institutions of higher education. These improvements will increase the backbone bandwidth of the Kansas Research and Education Network (KanREN) and will provide additional reliability and redundancy directly affecting 39 member organizations and hundreds of K-12 schools. The enhanced cyber connectivity will also facilitate multi-institutional research collaborations in the areas of ecological forecasting, climate change, and renewable energy sources.
  • Louisiana Board of Regents: The money will fund the extension of the high-bandwidth optical network of the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI) into Xavier University, a private, historically-black university in New Orleans, and support research in materials modeling. LONI already provides modern, robust cyberinfrastructure across Louisiana, connecting virtually every public institution of higher education in Louisiana, as well as four public research universities in the state of Mississippi. With this boost, Xavier will become Louisiana's first private institution with research activities anchored in a primarily undergraduate curriculum that is linked to LONI with a connection that takes full advantage of the optical network's capabilities.
  • Mississippi State University: Mississippi's research institutions of higher learning--Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, University of Mississippi, and University of Southern Mississippi--will significantly expand Gigabit accessibility to researchers in modeling and multiscale simulations of complex systems. The upgraded connectivity will bolster the state's capacity to pursue collaborative research in biological systems simulation, computational biology, and computational chemistry.
  • University of Montana: The award will bolster the Northern Tier Networking Consortium (NTNC), a 12-state collaboration to support university and college networking. NTNC will be extended to facilitate local connection sites in Billings, Mills City, and Ronan, Montana. Improved cyber connectivity will be enabled for Montana State University-Billings, Salish Kootenai College (a tribal college), Miles City Community College, and Dawson Community College. In addition, researchers within the region will have enhanced access to an enterprise class computation and data storage facility being created by the state of Montana.
  • University of Nebraska: To overcome distance as a barrier to resource sharing and collaboration, Nebraska will enhance the Nebraska University Regional Optical Network (NURON). This optical fiber ring backbone that links Lincoln and Omaha with Kansas City will be enhanced to support high speed data and video transfer. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska-Omaha will lead the project that will enable 29 Nebraska community institutions to benefit from this enhanced capability.
  • University of New Mexico: New Mexico will enable high-speed connections to the state's regional universities and tribal and community colleges. The project will strengthen education in wireless and high performance computing, build partnerships within the computational community, deploy wireless networks to serve the Navajo Nation's most remote communities, and build the Diné Grid to provide education, public safety, research, and communication tools to the Navajo people.
  • Nevada System of Higher Education: The money will strengthen cyber connectivity within the Nevada System of Higher Education. The network capacity will increase 160-fold over that of the current system. Nevada's RII C2 investments will be sustained, in part, through long-term commitments by NevadaNet, a robust statewide network backbone that also provides data connectivity and videoconferencing services to approximately 300 predominately rural Nevada locations.
  • University of Oklahoma: Through the Oklahoma Optical Initiative, new funding will enable Oklahoma's upgrade of OneNet, its current network, to an optical one, substantially improving the reliability, robustness, and availability of broadband access for research and education. The award will also provide a substantial number of dedicated high performance connections, both within Oklahoma and to national and international networks.
  • Brown University: Award will enhance access to a high-performance computing and bioinformatics facility that supports life science research, including the analysis of the massive amounts of DNA sequencing data currently being generated by high-throughput NextGen sequencing technologies. The award will also provide high-speed connections from Brown University campus sites to the University of Rhode Island and to collaborators at the state's nine primarily undergraduate institutions.
  • South Carolina Research Authority: The South Carolina award will establish high-speed, high-capacity connections and dedicated collaboration facilities at Benedict College, the Clemson University Edisto Research Extension Center, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, and South Carolina State University (SCSU), increasing network bandwidth for each by an order of magnitude. Classrooms with enhanced video communications capacity will be constructed at Benedict College, Claflin University, the University of South Carolina (USC) Beaufort, and USC Columbia. These facilities will serve as virtual classrooms for students and facilitate collaborative research among faculty.
  • South Dakota State University: Four institutions will collaborate with the South Dakota EPSCoR program to significantly upgrade their cyber connectivity: three tribal colleges, Sinte Gleska University, Oglala Lakota College, and Sisseton Wahpeton College, and Augustana College, an undergraduate institution with a rich history of attracting and retaining first-generation college students. This award will improve cyberinfrastructure within these campuses as well as connections to other STEM research and education communities.
  • University of Utah: Money will fund two integrated approaches to address cyber connectivity at the state's three research universities--the University of Utah (UU), Utah State University (USU), and Brigham Young University (BYU). First, it will extend advanced network capabilities of the Research@UEN optical network to BYU to complement those capabilities currently under development for UU and USU. Second, it will make strategic investments in local campus networking capabilities to better enable research and STEM activities at all three institutions.
  • Higher Education Policy Commission of West Virginia: Money will be used to advance cyberinfrastructure at its two major research institutions, Marshall University and West Virginia University. These investments will increase research capacity in several areas, including bionanoscience and engineering, computational fluid dynamics, and astrophysics. Funding will also enable the establishment of Internet2 access potential for the state's predominantly undergraduate colleges and universities, community and technical colleges, and the K-12 community that participate in the state network, WVNET.

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