Research News

CCR awarded $2 million for economic development, PhD program

Computer cables inside the Center for Computational Research

Computer cables inside UB's Center for Computational Research. Photo: Douglas Levere

By CORY NEALON

Published August 2, 2018

“The equipment will help foster economic development and job creation in the Buffalo Niagara region, and it will enhance UB’s standing as a leading academic supercomputing facility.”
Thomas Furlani, director
Center for Computational Research

UB’s Center for Computational Research (CCR) is expanding its supercomputing capability, thanks to two grants totaling $2 million.

The center, which conducts high-performance computing on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, was awarded a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a $1 million Regional Economic Development Council grant from Empire State Development.

The center will use the awards to purchase advanced computing equipment that will more than triple its computing power, enabling it to better support new and existing businesses in advanced manufacturing, the life sciences and other industries, as well as UB’s research and educational programs.

“These awards are investments that will greatly improve CCR’s high-performance computing infrastructure,” says Thomas Furlani, the center’s director. “The equipment will help foster economic development and job creation in the Buffalo Niagara region, and it will enhance UB’s standing as a leading academic supercomputing facility.”

Empire State Development grant

The center will use the award to upgrade its computer servers with technology that supports cutting-edge research in many fields, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics. Such research has helped launch the big data revolution — a rapidly evolving effort to collect, store and synthesize large data sets — that is transforming how most major industries operate.

“This investment will allow us to expand a highly successful industry partnership program that has already led to the creation and retention of nearly 100 jobs in the Buffalo Niagara region, and an estimated economic impact of more than $50 million over the past four years,” says Furlani, adding that the project aligns with strategies outlined by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council.

Shawn Matott, who leads CCR’s economic development efforts, notes the new servers will provide Western New York companies “with an inside track on adapting to this technology and using it to drive innovation and business growth.”

“In fact, we’ve already received interest in this equipment from local businesses across many sectors, including health care, advanced manufacturing, medical imaging, drug discovery, autonomous navigation and e-commerce,” Matott says.

National Science Foundation grant

The NSF grant will fund upgrades that will enable the center to support UB’s Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (CDSE) doctoral program.

The unique cross-disciplinary program, which trains the next generation of data scientists and computational scientists, involves five schools and colleges within UB. These students and their faculty mentors conduct research in materials science, earth sciences, bioinformatics, finance, pharmacy, physics and other fields.

UB established CDSE under the E Fund, a program that funded high-impact, high-return strategic initiatives responsive to the NYSUNY 2020 program and UB priorities.

“Access to cutting-edge computational and data resources are crucial to our efforts to create and sustain a world-leading program in these very high- demand areas. This was a very competitive NSF grant, and we’re happy that our proposal was selected from among the hundreds that competed in this program,” says Abani Patra, director of CDSE and a co-principal investigator on the NSF grant.

CDSE has more than a dozen students and its first graduate was recently hired by M&T Bank.