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NCSA Explores Expanding Collaborative Efforts with the Cyprus Institute

From left to right: Constantine Dovrolis, director, CaSToRC; Bill Gropp, director, NCSA; Stavros Malas, president, The Cyprus Institute; Costas N. Papanicolas, professor and CEO, The Cyprus Research and Educational Foundation (CREF)

From left to right: Constantine Dovrolis, director, CaSToRC; Bill Gropp, director, NCSA; Stavros Malas, president, The Cyprus Institute; Costas N. Papanicolas, professor and CEO, The Cyprus Research and Educational Foundation (CREF)

Since 2009, NCSA and the Cyprus Institute (CyI) have had a fruitful collaborative relationship. With NCSA’s assistance, CyI established its Computation-based Science and Technology Research Center (CaSToRC). NCSA also played a fundamental role in the creation and deployment of CyI’s High-Performance Computing facilities. Over the years, NCSA has continued to provide additional support through dual degree and postdoctoral programs.

A broad contingent of NCSA leadership traveled to Cyprus this February to renew our commitment to this ongoing collaborative work. They met with CyI president Stavros Malas and spent their time in a number of meetings with CyI management, researchers, faculty and staff.

NCSA director, Bill Gropp, was pleased so many representatives from NCSA were on hand to re-forge this collaboration. He’s watched CyI grow over the years and like the rest of the NCSA leadership, was impressed with everything CyI has accomplished.

In my six years as NCSA director, I’ve seen the Cyprus Institute become a leading research institute and graduate school in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was great to see the discussions between the NCSA and Cyprus Institute leaders about current and future activities. I am excited about the opportunities for NCSA and Illinois to collaborate with the Cyprus Institute in areas such as digital cultural heritage, digital agriculture, data science and high-performance computing, and I look forward to an even stronger partnership with the Cyprus Institute.

Bill Gropp, director, NCSA

For some NCSA delegates, it was their first time visiting after years of working with CyI. “I was shocked to see the Paphos gate,” said Kenton McHenry, associate director for software at NCSA, “a structure we have talked about throughout and done work to 3D reconstruct and virtually interact with, only to be told that this was only excavated recently as part of the collaboration. As a software engineer, it was amazing to see this very real-world outcome of our work.” McHenry went on to explain what he hoped to achieve with the visit. “ We now explore new areas of collaboration, one in particular, around the global need for Research Software Engineers and the challenges of recruiting, training, and retaining them, something NCSA has been pioneering for some years now.”

Jay Roloff, NCSA’s associate director of program management, was pleased with how much CyI has accomplished since its doors opened.

“I continue to be impressed with their growth and success over the 12 years that I have helped to manage this collaboration between Illinois and the Cyprus Institute. From the Cyprus Institutes’ official opening in 2007 until now, they have grown from an unknown research institute in the Eastern Mediterranean to a world-class research enterprise that offers a number of master’s and Ph.D. programs. I’m proud of the work that Illinois researchers have done to help them reach this point, and I’m excited about the opportunities ahead for Illinois and the Cyprus Institute to continue this fruitful collaboration as true peers.”

Many of NCSA’s leaders worked with CyI from the very start. John Towns, NCSA’s executive associate director of engagement, has worked with CyI on and off since it opened. “I began working with the Cyprus Institute at its inception and did so for several years before taking a hiatus from that work to focus on other projects,” Towns said. “This trip constituted my first re-engagement with the Institute and I was highly impressed with the progress made since my last involvement. Areas initiated in the early days have grown and strengthened and new avenues of collaborative research have been developed. The dedication and passion of the faculty and staff are nothing less than amazing. I look forward to ongoing collaborations with the Institute as a peer, world-class institution.”

Brett Bode, NCSA and New Frontiers Initiative assistant director, also has a long history of working with the HPC team at CyI. He was glad to have the time to evaluate the facilities firsthand. “This trip was an excellent opportunity to review the overall facility and the challenges it faces in supporting the growing needs for computational and data resources at the institute. It was also an opportunity to meet the new facility staff and discuss our shared challenges in finding and training staff. I continue to be amazed at the quantity and quality of work done at the facility and look forward to continuing our collaboration.”

For Kalina Borkiewicz, an assistant director at NCSA who now heads the Visualization Program Office and the Advanced Visualization Laboratory, this visit was a chance to make new connections. She hadn’t been strongly involved with CyI before this meeting. “This was my first trip to Cyprus,” she said. “I’m excited to establish a connection between the Cyprus Institute and the new NCSA Visualization Program Office. NCSA has been working on visualization efforts with the Cyprus Institute primarily via a shared Ph.D. student, Colter Wehmeier. This trip opened further avenues for collaboration across many domains, including atmospheric sciences, digital cultural heritage, AR/VR, and cinematic scientific visualization.”

You can read the full story here: Visit by University of Illinois Delegation Explores Opportunities for Expanding Existing Collaboration with CyI

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