Foster reappointed Director of Computation Institute

July 23, 2009

Ian Foster has been reappointed Director of the Computation Institute for a three-year term, effective July 1, with a mandate to continue building the University's thriving community of computational scientists.

A joint project between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, the institute addresses the most challenging problems arising in the use of strategic computation and communications.

A man of many titles, Foster is the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor in Computer Science and a Chan Soon-Shiong Scholar at the University of Chicago, and Associate Director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne.

Foster develops tools and technologies that allow people to use high-performance computing in innovative ways. He is one of the founders of grid computing, along with the University of Southern California's Carl Kesselman. Grid computing allows people to share computing power, databases and other online tools securely across corporate, institutional and geographic boundaries without sacrificing local autonomy.

Foster's honors include the Lovelace Medal of the British Computing Society and the Gordon Bell Prize for High-Performance Supercomputing.

The institute employs more than 100 University of Chicago faculty members and Argonne scientists as fellows, and nearly 60 full-time professional staff members. New faculty appointments in astrophysics, linguistics, medicine, ecology and evolution, computer science, pediatrics, and visual arts have deepened the University's expertise in computation.

"A strong community of computational scientists across both the University and Argonne has emerged since Ian's appointment and with it, many new opportunities for computation to make a transformative impact on science, medicine, the arts and humanities, both inside and outside of our walls," said Donald Levy, Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories at the University of Chicago.

"I am confident that under Ian's leadership the Computation Institute will continue to serve as a center for collaboration among faculty, students and researchers who use common computational techniques and methodology to study very different problems in diverse areas of scholarship."

Over the last three fiscal years, the institute has received more than $85.7 million in funding from outside agencies. In fiscal year 2009 alone, the institute received more than $45.4 million in grants�more than double the amount received in 2008 and 2007 combined.

Ongoing institute projects include the National Microbial Pathogen Research Center, which operates a computer database that helps biomedical scientists identify and exploit weak spots in scores of deadly organisms; and TeraGrid, a national system of interconnected computers that scientists and engineers are harnessing to solve some of their most challenging problems.

Also under way are new institute initiatives devoted to computational economics, with a focus on environmental and energy economics; biomedical informatics, which addresses the data explosion that is about to transform biomedical research and clinical medicine; data-intensive computing, which complements continuing work in the development and application of technologies for grid computing; and text mining, the analysis of text collections that has emerged as a common theme for researchers in the humanities, biomedicine, business and computer science.

"The intellectual brilliance, passion and collegiality of institute fellows and staff are remarkable. It seems that almost every day a fellow communicates some new opportunity for transformative impact in an important area of science, medicine, the arts or the humanities," Foster said. "I am eager to continue working with the institute's fellows and staff to create an institute that is truly a place of international leadership in advanced computation and its application."