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NSF grants 14 researchers time on Blue Waters supercomputer

The Blue Waters Petascale Computing Resource Allocations (PRAC) have been awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fourteen teams of researchers from across the U.S. The awarded allocations reached a combined total of 84.5 million node hours (2.7 billion core hour equivalents), valued at $52.4 million.

The NSF granted three PRAC awards to Caroline Riedl, Ryan Sriver and Emad Tajkhorshid at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Riedl is using Blue Waters to map proton quark structure using petabytes of Common Muon and Proton Apparatus for Structure and Spectroscopy (COMPASS) data from CERN. Sriver will conduct collaborative research between the University of Illinois and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) aimed at assessing international climate using high resolution modeling. Tajkhorshid and his team will use the award to study chemo-mechanical properties of motor proteins and the structure of and function of the macromolecular complexes.

Blue Waters’ extreme scale computing and data management capabilities allow principal investigator (PI) Thomas Jordan from the University of Southern California to improve earthquake forecasting and seismic hazard analyses. This project develops and tests earthquake models that capture physics in a more realistic manner than ever before, and to run simulations at finer resolutions and higher frequencies. The results better quantify seismic hazards and their uncertainties.

Blue waters simulation capabilities allow researchers to recreate faint galaxies and probe galaxy formations, as well as merging black holes and collapsing supernovae. Cornell University and Caltech are collaborating to create petascale simulations of merging black holes and neutron stars. The primary goal of co-PIs Saul Teukolsky and Lawrence Kidder are to use Blue Waters to support and improve the ability of Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory to extract from information from observed gravitational waves. Philip F. Hopkins, a PI at Caltech, will carry out novel research of galaxy formation by running cosmological simulations on Blue Waters, targeting galaxies from the faintest dwarfs through the Milky Way, at ultra-high resolution. Nickolay Gnedin, University of Chicago, plans to explore the physical mechanisms for turnovers at the end of faint galaxies using petascale simulation; Dinshaw Balsara at the University of Notre Dame will test theories of star formations by carrying out simulations using Blue Waters; and Jerry Draayer, Louisiana State University, aims to use Blue Waters in advancing the first-principle symmetry-guided nuclear modeling for studies nucleosynthesis and fundamental symmetries in nature.

Paul Woodward, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, will continue to build on earlier work with Blue Waters to simulate convective-reactive nucelosynthesis. A Blue Waters allocation will allow Shantenu Jha, Rutgers University, to characterize and understand glutamate binding to the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAr) on a macromolecular system using the system’s advanced simulation capabilities.


Kristin Williamson
Senior Assistant Director, NCSA
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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