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22 Illinois projects receive time on Blue Waters

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has awarded access to the Blue Waters supercomputer—which is capable of performing quadrillions of calculations every second and of working with quadrillions of bytes of data—to 22 campus research teams from a wide range of disciplines.

The computing and data capabilities of Blue Waters, which is operated by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), will assist researchers in their work on understanding DNA, developing biofuels, simulating climate, and more.

“These allocations will allow researchers to address a variety of scientific problems at scales and levels of fidelity that would not otherwise be possible,” said William Gropp, the director of Illinois’ Parallel Computing Institute and the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science. “The topics cover a wide range of challenging problems in engineering and the sciences, and we expect these projects to make significant contributions to their fields of study.”

Eight investigators and their teams received substantial awards of time on Blue Waters to enable them to make significant progress in their research:

  • Oleksii Aksimentiev, Physics: Molecular mechanism of DNA exchange
  • Narayana Aluru, Mechanical Science and Engineering: Quantum Monte Carlo calculations of water-graphene and water-h-BN interfaces
  • Isaac Cann, Animal Science and Microbiology; Institute for Genomic Biology: Simulations of cellulosomal subunits: components of a molecular machinery for depolymerization of feedstock for production of second generation biofuels
  • Aida X El-Khadra, Physics: Semileptonic kaon decay form factors at the physical point
  • Zaida Luthey-Schulten, Chemistry: C. crescentus cell division using our in-house lattice microbe simulation program AND Interactions between ribosomal signatures and 5′ and central domain of the ribosomal small subunit using NAMD 2.9 accelerated by GPUs
  • Greg McFarquhar, Atmospheric Sciences: Calculations of single-scattering properties of randomly oriented small atmospheric ice crystals to improve representations of ice clouds in satellite retrieval algorithms and numerical models
  • Stuart Shapiro, Physics: Gravitational and electromagnetic signatures of compact binary mergers: General relativistic simulations at the petascale
  • Shaowen Wang, Geography & Geographic Information Science: An extreme-scale computational approach to redistricting optimization

Another 14 teams received exploratory awards designed to help them explore the use of Blue Waters for their research challenges:

  • Robert Brunner, Astronomy: Extreme-scale astronomical image composition and analysis
  • Gustavo Caetano-Anolles, Crop Science and Institute for Genomic Biology: The dynamics of protein disorder and its evolution
  • Larry Di Girolamo, Atmospheric Sciences: New advances in cloud modeling: How 3D radiation impacts cloud dynamics and properties
  • Christopher Fields, Institute for Genomic Biology: Benchmarking the human variation calling pipeline
  • Thomas Huang, Electrical and Computer Engineering: Feature learning by large-scale heterogeneous networks with application to face verification
  • Atul Jain, Atmospheric Science: Efficient scalable climate simulations in an Earth system model via an adaptive parallel runtime system
  • Victor Jongeneel, Institute for Genomic Biology, Accurate sequence alignment using distributed filtering on GPU clusters
  • Athol Kemball, Astronomy: Radio interferometric imaging in the petascale era: New opportunities and challenges
  • Lijun Liu, Geology: 4-D dynamic evolution of North American continent
  • Nancy Makri, Chemistry: Quantum-classical path integral simulation of proton and electron transfer
  • Arif Masud, Civil and Environmental Engineering: Variational multiscale methods for non-Newtonian viscoelastic blood flow modeling: Application to clot formation and dissolution in patient specific models
  • Marc Snir, Computer Science: An extreme-scale computational approach to redistricting optimization
  • Rizwan Uddin, Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering: Scaling up of a highly parallel LBM-based simulation tool (PRATHAM) for meso- as well as large-scale laminar and turbulent flow and heat transfer
  • Albert Valocchi, Civil and Environmental Engineering: Exploring the physics of geological sequestration of carbon dioxide using high-resolution pore-scale simulation

Each year that Blue Waters is in operation, about 3 to 4 million node-hours will be allocated to projects from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Proposals will be accepted on an annual basis. For more information, visit

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