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Cyberinfrastructure for HPC: High Performance Collaboration

By Daniel Atkins

University of Michigan



Published on


This presentation forms part of the morning sessions at HUBbub 2011. These sessions covered topics ranging from plenary speakers discussing the future of cyberinfrastructure and research at public universities and tech talk discussions on HUBzero's new functionality and ways to enhance your hub.


Daniel E. Atkins is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan (UM), Ann Arbor. He is also a Professor of Information, and the W. K. Kellogg Professor of Community Informatics in the School of Information. He currently serves as the Associate Vice-President for Research Cyberinfrastructure and Chair of the UM IT Governance Council. From June 2006 to June 2008 served as the inaugural Director of the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Atkins began his research career in the field of computer architecture and did pioneering work in parallel computer architecture and high-speed computer arithmetic that is widely used in modern processor chips. He played significant roles in the design and implementation of seven general-purpose or special-purpose computers, including early work with processing CAT scan data with the Mayo Clinic. In the second decade of his research career, his focus shifted to research and teaching in the socio-technical, interdisciplinary field of distributed knowledge communities, with a specific focus on collaboratories -- laboratories without walls -- and digital libraries. He has directed several pioneering digital library and science collaboratory research projects funded by the NSF including the Upper-Atmospheric Research Collaboratory and the Space Physics and Aeronomy Research Collaboratory. These collaborations led to the formation of the ongoing Collaboratory for Research on Electronic Work. He also had significant roles in developing the NSF Digital Library Initiative, NSF FASTLANE, and the Mellon Foundation JSTOR project now in use in academic libraries worldwide.

He continues conceptual work in the area of distributed knowledge communities, currently with a focus on the future of research and learning in the digital age. Infrastructural aspects of this work are now embedded in the CIRRUS Project (Computing and Information Resources for Research as a Utility Service) that he has recently established at the UM.

He served as Associate Dean for Research and later as Dean of the UM College of Engineering. During this period he provided leadership for the early transition from time-sharing to networked workstation computing and its transformative adoption for science and engineering research and learning.

He was the founding Dean of the UM School of Information. This School has been a force for creating a growing international Information School (I-School) movement. During and after this deanship he formed and directed an Alliance for Community Technology (ACT) sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support the innovative use of information technology in civil society. ACT supported the formation of a Community Information Corp at SI, creation of a virtual library federation for the U.S. Native American tribal colleges, acceleration of the adoption of open source software in the nonprofit sector, and technical assistance to a variety of community technology centers in developing countries. Atkins served as a consultant to the W. K. Kellogg Foundation on the innovative use of information and communication technology for enriching education opportunities for at-risk youth in the U.S. and for both rural communities and higher education in southern Africa.

He served as Chair of a National Science Foundation Panel that in February 2002 issued the landmark Report of a Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure recommending a major program to revolutionize science and engineering research and education. The report has helped catalyzed new priorities, the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the NSF, and strategic e-science programs in many other countries.

Atkins also serves regularly on panels of the National Academies exploring issues such as scholarship in the digital age, the future of scholarly communication, the impact of information technology on the future of higher education, and research data policy. He is co-author of Higher Education in the Digital Age: Technology Issues and Strategies for American Colleges and Universities.

He has served as a consultant and invited speaker to industry, foundations, educational institutions, and government worldwide. Examples include the NSF, NIH, Intel, Mayo Clinic, Kellogg Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Coalition for Networked Information, Internet2, the MIT Libraries, NPOWER, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Library of Medicine, National Archives and Records Administration, the OECC, European Commission, and the UK Research Councils. His recent report, A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and Opportunities, with J. S. Brown and A. L. Hammond, is now helping to shape international investment in the next phase of the open courseware movement. Recently Atkins served as Chair of an international panel to review the UK Research Councils e-Science Programmes, as a member of a task force to draft the Obama Administration’s National Educational Technology Plan 2010, and as an expert witness to the FCC National Broadband Plan. He is currently serving as Chair of a Scientific Advisory Committee for Digital Media and Learning for the MacArthur Foundation.

Atkins is the recipient of several major awards including two UM Distinguished Service Awards, the 1993 Nina W. Mathesson Award for outstanding contributions to medical informatics, the 1998 Computerworld Smithsonian Award for innovation in use of the web for science, and the 2008 Paul Evan Peters Award for notable, lasting achievements in the creation and innovative use of information resources and services that advance scholarship and intellectual productivity through communication networks. He is a recipient of an NSF Service Commendation, and in May 2009 he was recognized with a University of Illinois College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award for his influence on high-performance computer architecture, pioneering work in the development of schools of information, and leadership in improving the U.S. cyberinfrastructure.

Dr. Atkins received his BSEE from Bucknell University and his MS and PhD in EECS from the University of Illinois.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Daniel Atkins (2011), "Cyberinfrastructure for HPC: High Performance Collaboration,"

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