Resource and Career Center Pilot for Advancing Computational and Data-intensive Research Earns $1.49M NSF Award

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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 7, 2021 – Research is increasingly dependent upon research computing and data (RCD) infrastructure and services, and researchers are struggling to keep pace with the explosion of data and the rapidly evolving computing landscape. Having access to RCD professionals who have both the technology expertise and understanding of research workflows is invaluable to a researcher, but institutions face challenges recruiting and retaining RCD professional staff, and in building and sustaining effective RCD support services.

With a focus on advocacy, training, and workforce development, a team from Harvard, Internet2, UC San Diego, and the University of Utah have been awarded a nearly $1.5 million, two-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to address these challenges.

This NSF-funded Cyberinfrastructure Centers of Excellence (CI CoE) pilot will develop a Research Computing and Data Resource and Career Center that provides institutions and individuals with the products, tools, services, and community to build and sustain successful RCD operations. A key component of this effort is to help expand the development of new RCD professionals and to support them throughout their careers.

“We want to recruit more people in the research computing and data profession, and ensure that they have the tools and professional development opportunities to succeed at doing their jobs,” says Dana Brunson, executive director for research engagement at Internet2, and the grant’s principal investigator. “We will also bring together organizations that support RCD professionals across the larger ecosystem. We want to openly collaborate with them on the development of a shared voice that advocates for this new profession, and work together to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Building upon the success of the NSF-supported Campus Research Computing Consortium (CaRCC), the grant will support a more robust and sustainable implementation of the RCD Capabilities Model that provides an assessment framework, support for benchmarking and strategic planning, and a community dataset to understand the landscape of RCD support.

Among the goals of the pilot program is to develop resources for staff training and workforce development, including leading practices for recruitment, onboarding, advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, professional development, and proven models for student internship and training programs.

“The research computing and data roles are not well understood and supported by institutions, and this has made recruitment and retention of top talent very challenging,” says Patrick Schmitz, founder and principal consultant at Semper Cogito Consulting and co-principal investigator on the grant. “There is a real need to implement structural changes, to provide training and resources that will expand the pipeline into these roles, and to advance the profession as a whole.”

In addition to training and workforce development, the Resource and Career Center pilot will create and share a model of career arcs for RCD professionals to explain career options and help existing RCD professionals explore professional development and advancement opportunities.

The team plans to use the pilot period to facilitate the creation of a coordinating organization that connects all the relevant communities that can benefit from RCD support, and to develop a shared voice for RCD professionals, with plans for a fully operational Center of Excellence.

“Research computing and data professionals are a force multiplier in accelerating research outcomes, and this grant is helping us bring together research communities to create a shared framework so that we can collectively build and sustain a wide range of support services for this profession,” adds Scott Yockel, university research computing officer at Harvard University and co-principal investigator on the grant.

Additional co-principal investigators on the grant are Claire Mizumoto, director, research IT services at UC San Diego, and Thomas Cheatham, professor of medicinal chemistry and director, center for high performance computing at the University of Utah.

More information can be found on the NSF Award page.

About Internet2
Internet2® is a non-profit, member-driven advanced technology community founded by the nation’s leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2 serves 320 U.S. universities, 59 government agencies, 45 regional and state education networks and through them supports more than 100,000 community anchor institutions, over 1,000 InCommon participants, and 54 leading corporations working with our community, and 70 national research and education network partners that represent more than 100 countries.

Internet2 delivers a diverse portfolio of technology solutions that leverages, integrates, and amplifies the strengths of its members and helps support their educational, research and community service missions. Internet2’s core infrastructure components include the nation’s largest and fastest research and education network that was built to deliver advanced, customized services that are accessed and secured by the community-developed trust and identity framework.

Internet2 offices are located in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Denver, Colo.; Washington, D.C.; and West Hartford, Conn. For more information, visit www.internet2.edu or follow @Internet2 on Twitter.

About Harvard University
Harvard is at the frontier of academic and intellectual discovery. Those who venture here—to learn, research, teach, work, and grow—join nearly four centuries of students and scholars in the pursuit of truth, knowledge, and a better world. Harvard has 12 degree-granting Schools and the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, and also offers countless non-degree opportunities for professional and lifelong learners, including executive education, continuing education, and online courses. As a research university and nonprofit institution, Harvard is focused on creating educational opportunities for people from many lived experiences.

About Semper Cogito Consulting
Semper Cogito provides strategic technology consulting in Academic Research IT, Museums, Archives, and Research collections. We draw upon decades of experience across start-up, large company, and not-for-profit organizations. Semper Cogito is actively engaged with the research computing and data community through organizations like the Campus Research Computing Consortium (CaRCC).

Semper Cogito is based in Berkeley, CA. For more information, visit sempercogito.com.

About UC San Diego
At the University of California San Diego, we embrace an inclusive culture of exploration and experimentation. Established in 1960, UC San Diego has been shaped by exceptional scholars who are not afraid to look deeper, challenge expectations and redefine conventional wisdom. As one of the top 20 research universities in the world and the only academic medical center in San Diego, we are driving innovation and change to advance society, improve the health of our community, propel economic growth and make our world a better place. Learn more at www.ucsd.edu.

About University of Utah
The University of Utah is the state’s flagship institution of higher education, with 18 schools and colleges, more than 100 undergraduate and 90 graduate degree programs, and an enrollment of more than 32,000 students. In 2019, the university was selected as a new member of the Association of American Universities—an invitation-only, prestigious group of 65 leading research institutions marked by excellence in academic expertise and research impact, student success, and securing resources in support of core missions.

Media Contact
Sara Aly, saly@internet2.edu