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Bill Gropp named NCSA Director

Dr. William “Bill” Gropp, Interim Director and Chief Scientist of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will become the center’s fifth Director on July 16, 2017, pending Board of Trustees approval. Gropp was appointed to the roles of acting and then interim director of NCSA by Vice Chancellor for Research Peter Schiffer when former NCSA director Dr. Ed Seidel stepped up to serve as Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation for the University of Illinois System.

“Bill has provided solid and forward-looking leadership as acting and interim director during the past ten months,” said Dr. Peter Schiffer, Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “I have every confidence that he will guide NCSA into the next era of scientific research and the application of advanced digital resources.”

Gropp, who joined the Urbana-Champaign faculty in 2007, holds the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science and 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 was recently named principal investigator of the NSF-funded Midwest Big Data Hub, a growing network of partners investing in data and data sciences to address grand challenges for society and science.

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. His 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 allows large-scale computations to be run on thousands to millions of processor cores simultaneously and for the results of those computations to be efficiently shared. Gropp has authored more than 187 technical publications, including co-authoring the book Using MPI, which is in its third edition and has sold over 19,000 copies.

Gropp was recognized as the recipient of the 2016 ACM/IEEE Computer Society Ken Kennedy Award for his highly influential contributions to the programmability of high performance parallel and distributed computers.

“I am honored to be appointed the director of this amazing organization as we drive NCSA’s mission of being a world-class integrative center for transdisciplinary research, education, and innovation into a new era,” said Gropp. “I am excited by the many opportunities that NCSA is uniquely able to pursue in order to solve grand challenges for the benefit of science and society. Our strength is in our experience, our broad range of expertise, and our strong and growing connections with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. We will leverage these strengths to innovate and provide advanced computing and data infrastructure to the nation, partnering with the campus in new initiatives, particularly in data and health sciences, and in strengthening our historic partnerships in engineering, humanities, and the sciences.”

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.

About NCSA

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation’s science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students, and collaborators from around the globe use advanced digital resources to address research grand challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing one third of the Fortune 50 for more than 30 years by bringing industry, researchers, and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.

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