|Carolina attracts world-class data research team|
The University is now home to the world-renowned Data Intensive Cyber Environments (DICE) group, a recruiting coup seen as a boon for extending Carolina’s leadership nationally and internationally in managing, sharing, publishing and archiving research data.
The DICE team, which has a research portfolio exceeding $10 million, long has been based at the University of California, San Diego’s Supercomputer Center. Now those researchers will hold appointments in UNC’s School of Information and Library Science with research space in Chapel Hill’s Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI).
The research group brings expertise in development of digital data technologies, including open source software that enables sharing of data in collaborative research, publication of data in digital libraries, and preservation of data in persistent archives for use by future generations.
“The opportunity to recruit an entire group of active researchers with an international reputation for vision, innovation and accomplishment is rare, perhaps even unprecedented in information and library science,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp. “Their work is closely aligned with the school’s efforts in digital libraries and archives, databases, institutional repositories, information retrieval and information management. Our students and many others across campus will have an extraordinary opportunity to learn from and collaborate with this world-class research team.”
Research team leaders Reagan Moore, Ph.D.; Richard Marciano, Ph.D.; and Arcot Rajasekar, Ph.D.; are being appointed as full professors in the School of Information and Library Science. Other members of the DICE group will move to Carolina in the next few months.
“The DICE group will function as a magnet for students and collaborators,” said José-Marie Griffiths, dean of the School of Information and Library Science (SILS). “The group will help us further extend the research computing infrastructure at UNC that will benefit us all, improve our capacity and capability to conduct larger-scale research projects, while inspiring new generations of students to understand that considerable attention and deliberate effort are needed to ensure both effective and long-term access to information.”
Group members will interact with colleagues in the school and other campus units on academic digital library and preservation research efforts, initially focusing on current collaborations such as the National Archives and Records Administration Transcontinental Persistent Archive Prototype and the National Science Foundation Software Development for Cyberinfrastructure project, along with others such as the Library of Congress Video Archiving project.
“A major challenge for the next several decades will be managing the enormous amount of digital data we create in science and research,” said Alan Blatecky, RENCI’s interim director. “The DICE group has years of experience and an international reputation for developing innovative systems for managing distributed digital data. This will be a huge advantage for Carolina as the wave of new data rapidly becomes a tsunami. We will have the opportunity to extend our leadership nationally and internationally in managing, sharing, publishing and archiving research data.”
Other potential areas for collaboration include biomedical and health data management, grid computing and cyberinfrastructure with Carolina’s Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute and its recently announced National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Award, visualization of large-scale data sets with the College of Arts and Sciences’ department of computer science and with RENCI, as well as shared institutional repositories and digital library systems with RENCI and the Triangle Research Libraries Network. Additional collaborations in the sciences, social sciences and humanities are expected.
“The DICE group, in collaboration with SILS, will pursue development of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral level courses on data grids and preservation environments,” Moore said. “The opportunity to teach academic courses strongly influenced the decision to move to SILS and UNC. We are also interested in pursuing collaborations for the creation of campus cyberinfrastructure and participating on data management projects in support of education, patient medical records and emergency preparedness.”
For more than 10 years the group’s Storage Research Broker data grid has been used by research teams worldwide to automate manipulation of large, distributed data files, including discovery, access, retrieval, management, replication, archiving and analysis. DICE recently developed iRODS, the open source Integrated Rule-Oriented Data System, which introduced user-settable rules that automate complex management policies, helping address today’s mushrooming collections of digital data.
The team has worked on national and international projects, providing data management systems for major grid and distributed research projects, including the Southern California Earthquake Center, the TeraGrid, the Worldwide University Network, California Digital Library-Digital Preservation Repository, the Laboratory for the Ocean Observatory Knowledge Integration Grid, the Biomedical Informatics Research Network and the Geoscience network.
On Aug. 29, the DICE group receives the 2008 J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award from the Society of American Archivists. The award honors an individual, institution or organization that promotes greater public awareness, appreciation or support of archives. “The DICE group was selected for its long-time support of and involvement in the archives profession’s work to address the challenges of managing, preserving, and providing access to electronic records,” according to a society announcement.