NCSA focuses its interdisciplinary research efforts on six thematic areas. Each theme includes faculty-led research teams of professors, postdocs, and students who work together with expert NCSA to address major challenges.

Bioinformatics and Health Sciences

The Bioinformatics and Health Sciences thematic area provides a formal home to ongoing and novel explorations of topics in evolutionary and functional genomics and metagenomics, simulations of large-scale macromolecular complexes, properties of biomolecular networks, and multiscale modeling of biological systems, with potential applications to human health, bioenergy, and sustainability. Our approaches are strongly computational, and emphasize advances in algorithmic efficiency, parallelization, scaling, and deployment in HPC or cloud environments.

The Bioinformatics and Health Sciences thematic area includes faculty from the Departments of Bioengineering (Sergei Maslov), Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (Diwakar Shukla), Computer Science (Tandy Warnow), Crop Sciences (Matthew Hudson), Physics (Aleksei Aksimentiev), and Plant Biology (Amy Marshall-Colon). The theme has strong campus connections to the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, the Coordinated Science Lab, and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Its members participate in the CompGen initiative, the Virtual Plant program, the Center for Macromolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics, and the Computational and Genomic Medicine theme of the Mayo Illinois Alliance for Technology-Based Health Care.

Computing and Data Sciences

Theme Lead: Professor Gabrielle Allen (NCSA, Dept. of Astronomy)

The newly formed Computing and Data Sciences (C&D) thematic area is led in the interim by professor Gabrielle Allen (NCSA, Astronomy) and includes faculty from the Departments of Computer Science (William Gropp, Sanjay Kale, William Kramer, Klara Nahrstedt, Luke Olson, Marc Snir), Electrical and Computer Engineering (Wen-Mei Hwu, Volodymyr Kindratenko), the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (Bertram Ludäscher, Victoria Stodden), Aerospace Engineering (Daniel Bodony) and staff from NCSA (Franck Cappello, Kenton McHenry). The theme maintains strong connections to the Joint Lab for Extreme Scale Computing, the Blue Waters project, the Parallel Computing Institute, the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship, and the National Data Service.

Culture and Society

Theme Lead: Professor Donna Cox (NCSA, Dept. of Art & Design)

The Culture and Society thematic area provides a formal home to ongoing accomplishments in high-performance visualization as well as an expansion into new areas of digital studies emerging from research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. It builds on the University of Illinois’ history, not only in computing research, but also in founding new networks of collaboration and critique regarding new technologies, as manifest in campus contributions to HASTAC, FemTechNet, and Digital Humanities efforts.

The Culture and Society thematic area is led by professor Donna Cox (NCSA, Art & Design) and includes faculty from the Departments of Communication (Scott Poole, William Barley), Political Science (Scott Althaus), Music (Guy Garnett), Art & Design (Donna Cox, Kevin Hamilton, Ben Grosser), Dance (John Toenjes), African American Studies (Kevin Franklin), English (Jodi Byrd), Curriculum and Instruction (Luc Paquette), the College of Fine and Applied Arts (Michael Ross) and the Graduate School for Library and Information Science (Peter Darch, Stephen Downie, Jana Diesner). Culture and Society also has connections to the Krannert Center for Performing Arts, the Cline Center for Democracy, the Illinois Learning Sciences Design Laboratory, and the Science and Technology in Archaeology Research Center at the Cyprus Institute. Established programs in the Culture and Society thematic area include eDream (Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media Institute), I-CHASS (Institute for Computing in the Humanities and Social Sciences) and the NCSA Advanced Visualization Laboratory. The theme is establishing a Laboratory for Critical Technologies.

Earth and Environment

Theme Lead: Professor Shaowen Wang (Dept. of Geography and Geographic Information Systems, NCSA)

The Earth and Environment thematic area is led by professor Shaowen Wang (Geography and Geographic Information Systems, NCSA) and includes faculty from the Departments of Atmospheric Sciences (Larry Di Girolamo, Donald Wuebbles), Civil and Environmental Engineering (Praveen Kumar, Barbara Minsker, Daniel Work), and Political Science (Wendy Cho).

Materials and Manufacturing

Theme Lead: Professor Narayan Aluru (Dept. of Mechanical Science and Engineering, NCSA)

The Materials and Manufacturing thematic area is interested integrated computational materials and manufacturing engineering for computational discovery of new materials for electronics, energy, medicine, photonics, sensing, water, etc; the development of multiscale methods spanning quantum to atomistic to mesoscale to continuum scales; the development of toolkits for materials and manufacturing design; materials informatics exploiting the National Data Service (NDS); the application of predictive computational chemistry to condensed matter and cyberphysical manufacturing.

The Materials and Manufacturing thematic area is led by professor Narayana Aluru (Mechanical Science and Engineering, NCSA) and includes faculty from the Departments of Chemistry (Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, So Hirata), Civil and Environmental Engineering (Ahmed Elbanna, Arif Masud), Electrical and Computer Engineering (Xiuling Li), Materials Science and Engineering (Andrew Ferguson, André Schleife, Dallas Trinkle), Mechanical Science and Engineering (Elif Ertekin, Placid Ferreira, Iwona Jasiuk, Harley Johnson, Shiv Kapoor, Seid Koric, Martin Ostoja-Starzewski, Surya Pratap Vanka), Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering (Davide Curreli), and Physics (David Ceperley, Bryan Clark, Lucas Wagner). The theme has strong connections to the Beckman Institute, Computational Science and Engineering, Coordinated Science Laboratory, Materials Research Laboratory, and the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.

Physics and Astronomy

Theme Lead: Professor Athol Kemball (Dept. of Astronomy, NCSA)

The Physics and Astronomy thematic area is led by professor Athol Kemball (Astronomy) and includes faculty members Gabrielle Allen, Robert Brunner, Xin Liu, Paul Ricker, Yue Shen, Matt Turk, Joaquin Vieira (Astronomy) and Ed Seidel (Physics). The area has diverse research interests across astrophysical phenomena and disciplines within astronomy, astrophysics and relativity, touching on theory (gravitational waves), computational (star formation, galaxy formation, numerical relativity), and observational (DES, LSST, CARMA, SKA). In addition to scientific topics, the group is actively engaged in next-generation scientific practices, such as development of cyberinfrastructure (e.g., Cactus, Einstein Toolkit, yt, and Enzo), enabling open access, fostering reproducibility, and data topics spanning from the development of observational pipelines to the architecting of the National Data Service. The theme has strong connections to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope program and the Dark Energy Survey.

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