Research IT Services Update

DSA + HPC = UNT innovates, collaborates for disaster resilience

Data analysis is a strength at UNT, one of the first universities in the nation to co-host high-performance computing with data science and analytics services in one office. Non-STEM expertise also is a strength at UNT with more than 32,000 students enrolled in colleges that are not STEM-based. Under Ravi Vadapalli, director for Research IT Services, a new collaboration is underway to pair widespread expertise with computing.

“UNT is uniquely positioned with nine non-STEM colleges out of 12. We seek to join experts in social sciences, health and public service, business and other non-STEM areas with those in math, science, engineering and information technology,” says Vadapalli. “No other university in Texas is in a better position to do this.” These engagements will lead to innovative research, training and funding opportunities.

Vadapalli and his staff are working now to connect UNT’s STEM and non-STEM experts with industry and government in a disaster-resilience project for the State of Texas. The industry-academe-government model is essential to address complex problems that can’t be solved by isolated researchers in any one discipline or by any one group. Using a large amount of data from previous disasters, professionals from across all domains can use UNT computing power and analysis in natural-disaster prediction, preparedness, response and recovery. The challenge is in mining the data in ways that are meaningful and useful to non-STEM experts who can use the information for societal value.

“Resilience is a community-engagement problem. By integrating STEM and non-STEM researchers from all colleges, more expertise is then applied to solve problems, which interests the government as well as industry,” says Vadapalli. “The common backbone is computing and we are proposing a data-driven model.”

Vadapalli was a site director of the National Science Foundation Cloud and Autonomic Computing Center Site at Texas Tech University before joining UNT in May. He says UNT’s facilities, unique capabilities and proximity to Dallas-Fort Worth’s high-tech community resulted in the CAC’s recent unanimous approval making UNT an affiliate site to the center. UNT seeks to join as a fully-approved center site through an application process that will take place in the spring of 2019.


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