The University of Wisconsin received another boost in the scientific community Monday, winning a $30 million donation for a collaborative project along with 10 other universities and laboratories nationwide.
The National Science Foundation, along with the Department of Energy's Office of Science donated the money to the "Open Science Grid," a nationwide computing system spearheaded by UW computer science professor Miron Livny.
After scrounging for funds over the past two years, Livny, the principal investigator of the grid, said the program will allow scientists to share resources beyond "administrative boundaries."
"The idea is that there are computing and storage resources scattered through the United States at universities and national laboratories," Livny said. "And we are providing … structural infrastructure to have them work as one facility."
According to Interim Dean of Students Lori Berquam, government funding for the grid will allow UW to build relationships with other universities and in turn expand the Wisconsin Idea.
"It sounds like a really fantastic joint partnership, and that's what we're really all about," Berquam said.
Livny said UW's particular role in the nationwide project is providing software and organizational structure for Open Science Grid labs.
"Our software is being used extensively," he explained. "We also developed a reputation that we not only have the know-how to do the technical side, but also the know-how to maintain and build a production environment."
Livny said UW should be proud to lead a national project, but he is more excited about the expansion of science projects that may not have existed without the grid.
"It's definitely nice when a national effort of this magnitude is being anchored at Wisconsin. We should definitely be proud and satisfied and it shows our leadership in this field," Livny said. "But at the end of the day, the most important thing is whether the scientists will use this power to do more and better science."
According to Berquam, an expanded grid has the potential to benefit all of UW, because it should prove to be a good opportunity that can provide resources for faculty and students alike.
"The value of it will go beyond the initial monetary [value]," she said. "It will impact our students and what they are able to do."
Engineering School Dean Paul Peercy did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Monday.