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Bill Gropp named acting director of NCSA

Dr. William “Bill” Gropp, has been named acting director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. NCSA Director Ed Seidel will step up to serve as interim vice president for research (VPR) for the University of Illinois System, President Tim Killeen announced Monday. Seidel will retain the title of NCSA director in the interim. Both appointments are pending Board of Trustees approval.

“I am honored to have been asked to drive NCSA’s continuing mission as a world-class, integrative center for transdisciplinary convergent research, education, and innovation,” said Gropp. “Embracing advanced computing and domain collaborations across the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus and ensuring scientific communities have access to advanced digital resources will be at the heart of these efforts.”

Gropp, who was appointed to the role of acting director of NCSA by vice chancellor for research Peter Schiffer, joined the Urbana-Champaign faculty in 2007. Gropp holds the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science and is director of the Parallel Computing Institute in the Coordinated Science Laboratory.

Gropp has served as NCSA’s chief scientist since 2015. He is a co-principal investigator of Blue Waters, the fastest supercomputer on an academic campus, which enables scientists from across the country to make discoveries not otherwise possible.

Gropp is a leader in the advanced computing community who co-chaired the National Academies’ Committee on Future Directions for NSF Advanced Computing Infrastructure to Support U.S. Science.

Gropp’s most widely known contribution to the scientific computing community was the development of the MPICH implementation of the Message Passing Interface (MPI), which he designed with collaborators at Argonne National Laboratory. MPI, which allows large-scale computations to be run on thousand to millions of processor cores simultaneously and for the results of those computations to be efficiently shared as the overall computing job progresses, is essential to supercomputing today.

“Bill’s passion and professional purpose is the advancement and sustainability of high-performance computing and digital resources in order to solve complex grand challenges,” said Ed Seidel, director of NCSA and interim vice president for research for the University of Illinois System. “Bill will serve NCSA and the computing and engineering communities well in this role. I am looking forward to continuing to work closely with Bill to drive NCSA forward.”

“As demonstrated by his long record of scholarly accomplishment and his work as the co-chair of the recent National Academy Report, Bill Gropp is a visionary leader working to advance the future of our Nation’s scientific ingenuity,” said Peter Schiffer, vice chancellor for research at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Gropp held the positions of assistant (1982-1988) and associate (1988-1990) professor in the Computer Science Department at Yale University. In 1990, he joined the Numerical Analysis group at Argonne, where he was a Senior Computer Scientist in the Mathematics and Computer Science Division, a Senior Scientist in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago, and a Senior Fellow in the Argonne-Chicago Computation Institute. From 2000 through 2006, he was also Associate Director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne.

Gropp received his B.S. in Mathematics from Case Western Reserve University in 1977, a MS in Physics from the University of Washington in 1978, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford in 1982. Gropp is a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, and SIAM and received the Sidney Fernbach Award from the IEEE Computer Society in 2008. Gropp is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

NCSA is a hub of transdisciplinary research, deeply integrated with Illinois units, that has been delivering groundbreaking innovation and pushing education and research collaborations into unexplored territories for 30 years. NCSA Founder Larry Smarr, authored an unsolicited proposal that resulted in the NSF’s first Supercomputing Centers Program. NCSA’s development of the first graphical web browser, Mosaic, helped revolutionize the world’s economy and fundamentally changed the speed at which we communicate and conduct business. What makes NCSA unique is its capability to assemble a team and engineer a solution for any issue.

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