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Midwest Big Data Innovation Hub announces leadership changes

As its second year of new funding begins, there is new leadership at the Midwest Big Data Hub (MBDH), with a swap in principal investigators and the appointment of a new executive director. Catherine Blake, a co-principal investigator (PI) on the project, has moved into the PI role, while William (Bill) Gropp transitions to co-PI duties. Long-time Hub staff member John MacMullen was named executive director in January.

Catherine Blake

Blake is an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences (iSchool) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with an affiliate appointment in the Department of Computer Science. At the iSchool, she serves as associate director of the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS) and director of the graduate programs in information management and bioinformatics. Gropp is director and chief scientist of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in the Department of Computer Science at Illinois. Prior to joining the MBDH, MacMullen was a faculty member in the iSchool.

“I’m excited and honored to step into the role of principal investigator for the Midwest Big Data Hub,” said Blake. “The community developed during the first phase has made the MBDH well positioned to leverage the rapidly growing data and information collections and technologies in Phase 2 that focus on opportunities, interests, and resources that are unique to the Midwest.”

The MBDH, co-led by the NCSA and the iSchool, serves a twelve-state region that encompasses Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. It is part of the National Science Foundation’s regional Big Data Innovation Hub (BD Hubs) program that comprises offices in the Midwest, West, South, and the Northeast. Initially funded in 2015, the second phase started in summer 2019 and will run until 2023. The goal of the MBDH awards, which will total over $4 million for both phases, is to catalyze data science efforts around important priority areas in the Midwest.

“This month we’re starting our second year of the new phase of the Hub with the launch of our Community Development and Engagement funding program,” said MacMullen. “We look forward to continuing to develop a vibrant and diverse data science community in the Midwest that includes the range of academic institutions in the region, and grows participation from nonprofits, government agencies, and industry partners.”

Priority areas for MBDH currently include advanced materials and manufacturing; water quality; big data in health; digital agriculture; and smart, connected, and resilient communities. In addition, MBDH leads cross-cutting initiatives to broaden the participation in data science education, develop cyberinfrastructure for research data management, and address cybersecurity issues around big data. MBDH engages with the BD Hubs Data Sharing and Cyberinfrastructure Working Group, the Open Storage Network, and other initiatives that foster access to research data under FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) principles. By leading initiatives in data science education and workforce development, the MBDH aims to increase data science capacity within the region, such as by growing a network of predominantly undergraduate institutions and minority-serving institutions.

“The MBDH is building on the momentum of its first phase by growing the stakeholder community in the Midwest,” said Gropp, who began as PI of the Hub in 2017. “At the same time, we’re actively participating in the evolution of the national data science ecosystem. I look forward to continuing to develop long-term sustainability for the Hub’s activities through strategic projects such as the COVID Information Commons collaboration between the Hubs and NSF, launching in July 2020.”

Follow MBDH on Twitter: @MWBigDataHub

The Midwest Big Data Innovation Hub was initially funded under NSF award #1550320. The current Phase 2 award is #1916613.

Midwest Big Data Hub successfully transitions to second phase with new NSF award

The National Science Foundation (NSF) this month announced the second phase of funding for the regional Big Data Innovation Hub (BD Hubs) program. Under the planned four year, $4 million award, the Midwest Big Data Hub will continue to be led from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The Hub’s priority focus areas will be co-led by five partner institutions in the region: Indiana University, Iowa State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and the University of North Dakota.

First funded in 2015, the four regional BD Hubs were designed by NSF to follow U.S. Census Regions, with offices in the Midwest (led by Illinois), West (UC Berkeley), South (Georgia Tech and UNC Chapel Hill) and the Northeast (Columbia University). The Midwest Hub serves a 12-state region that encompasses Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

“Developing innovative, effective solutions to grand challenges requires linking scientists and engineers with local communities,” said Jim Kurose, Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation, which funded these awards. “The Big Data Hubs provide the glue to achieve those links, bringing together teams of data science researchers with cities, municipalities and anchor institutions.”

“The Midwest Big Data Hub has built a strong network of partners and a diverse community of stakeholders in the region,” said Bill Gropp, Principal Investigator for the award. “The Hub is well positioned to continue its record of fostering innovative partnerships and providing valued services to our stakeholders in its next phase. Our partner institutions are leaders in the region, and each brings unique strengths to the priority areas they lead.”

The Midwest Hub’s priority areas currently include:

  • Advanced Materials and Manufacturing – Led by the University of Illinois, this area focuses on next-generation materials research in a manufacturing context, and complements the 2016 NSF Big Data Spoke awards on integrative materials design (iMaD) to Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin – Madison, and the University of Michigan, as well as leveraging existing partnerships with the Materials Data Facility, the nanoMFG node at UIUC, and the Center for Hierarchical Materials Design (CHiMaD) at Northwestern University, all supported by NSF.
  • Water Quality – Led by a new Phase 2 partner, the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, this area complements the existing water cyberinfrastructure focus of the MBDH through the NSF Big Data Spoke awards made in 2018 to Iowa State University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Iowa.
  • Big Data in Health – The University of Michigan will continue to lead this area, with contributions from Indiana University, building on prior work in Phase 1 as well as the Spoke awards for the Advanced Computational Neuroscience Network (ACNN).
  • Digital Agriculture – Iowa State University will lead this area, with continuing contributions from the University of North Dakota, the University of Nebraska, the University of Illinois, and other partners, including from the 2016 Spoke award for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Plant Sciences and Education (UASPSE), to continue to build a vibrant stakeholder community engaged with transdisciplinary issues around data for agriculture, food production and plant and animal science.
  • Smart, Connected, and Resilient Communities – Led by Indiana University with contributions from Iowa State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Illinois, this area continues to build a network and connect resources at the intersection between research and data-driven community decision-making.  

“By catalyzing partnerships that integrate academic researchers into the fabric of communities across the U.S., we can accelerate and deepen the impact of basic research on a range of societal issues, from water management to efficient transportation systems,” said Beth Plale, one of the National Science Foundation program directors managing the Big Data Hubs awards.

The Midwest Hub also leads cross-cutting initiatives for broadening participation in data science education, cyberinfrastructure for research data management, and cybersecurity issues around big data. MBDH participates in the BD Hubs Data Sharing and Cyberinfrastructure Working Group, the Open Storage Network, and other initiatives that foster access to research data under FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reuseable) principles. By leading initiatives in data science education and workforce development, the MBDH aims to increase data science capacity within the region, in part through a growing network of Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions and Minority Serving Institutions.

The Midwest Big Data Hub was initially funded under NSF award # 1550320. The phase 2 award is # 1916613.

Explore the Hub at http://MidwestBigDataHub.org

Learn more about the BD Hubs ecosystem at http://BigDataHubs.org

The MBDH project office is housed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), which provides computing, data, networking, and visualization resources and expertise that help scientists and engineers across the country better understand and improve our world. NCSA is an interdisciplinary hub and is engaged in research and education collaborations with colleagues and students across the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

For interview requests, general questions, copyright permission and B-roll inquiries contact: publicaffairs@ncsa.illinois.edu.

National Science Foundation (NSF) media contact: media@nsf.gov

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BD Hubs profiled in SIGNAL magazine

The NSF-funded Big Data Innovation Hubs were highlighted in a recent article in SIGNAL magazine, a publication of the AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association). The Executive Directors of the Midwest and Northeast Big Data Hubs, Melissa Cragin and René Baston, were quoted extensively from interviews that covered the wide-ranging communities and activities of the Hubs. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“[W]hile we’re called the Big Data Innovation Hubs, we’re very focused on building capacity in data science, building expertise, access to data-related services and networks related to all things data science,” said Cragin.

That means making available “to all kinds of communities” access to data-related skills, services, tools and opportunities, Cragin states. By developing public/private partnerships and working with groups to leverage these resources, the hubs can help coordinate solutions to “shared grand challenges,” she notes. The hub also is endeavouring to extend data science research and education to predominantly undergraduate institutions—including minority-serving institutions—to help add data skills for the developing workforce, she states.

The regional aspect allows each hub to identify priority areas or “spokes” that they are pursuing. For the Midwest, issues relating to water quality; digital agriculture and unmanned aerial systems; and food, energy and water, among others, play a major role.

Read the full article here.

Welcome to the new MBDH Community Blog

Greetings!

Today we are launching a new MBDH Community Blog, which is intended to extend information sharing around events and projects, as well as expand our channels for Community conversation.

We plan to run 1-2 posts per month, and we are now seeking submissions from the MBDH Community – including the Spokes and our other collaborative projects – that describe your contributions and developments in the broader data ecosystem. Of interest are short reports and highlights from data-related meetings, events, or project outcomes, inclusive of the role and impact of the MBDH for these efforts.

We welcome contributions from the Social Sciences and Humanities, including short contributions that address data and algorithmic ethics, or coming changes for work, daily life, and public engagement in U.S data policy.

We encourage submissions from practitioner and NGO perspectives, as well as those from academia, industry, or government. We will provide additional guidelines shortly. If you are interested in submitting a Blog post, please send your contact information and the subject area to: info@midwestbigdatahub.org

Our first guest post is by Daniel Katz, Assistant Director for Scientific Software and Applications at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Check out his post on the US Research Software Sustainability Institute (URSSI) project.

Finally, I’ll note a couple of activities where we are currently seeking input and engagement:

Add your voice to our Midwest Big Data Hub evaluation

  • To create a robust strategic plan for the Midwest Hub.
  • To plan toward long-term sustainability, especially financial sustainability, for the Midwest Hub.
  • Provide your input here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MBDHSurvey

Participate in our election of five (5) At-large representatives for the MBDH Steering Committee:  http://midwestbigdatahub.org/2018-steering-committee-at-large-nominees/

As always, please contact us with any ideas or questions.
Thank you for your continued support!

All the best,
Melissa Cragin
Executive Director, Midwest Big Data Hub

Big Data Hubs partner with NSF and JHU on new nationwide data storage network

The Midwest Big Data Hub and the three other regional Big Data Innovation Hubs are partnering with the National Science Foundation and Johns Hopkins University on development of a new nationwide research data network called the Open Storage Network. Partners include Alex Szalay, lead PI (Johns Hopkins), Ian Foster (University of Chicago), the National Data Service (NDS), and five supercomputing centers within the Big Data Hubs’ regions.

The official NSF press release is available here.

The Johns Hopkins story is here.

A story from NCSA with more details from Melissa Cragin, MBDH Executive Director and award PI, and NDS Executive Director Christine Kirkpatrick is here.

Links to partners:

New Report on “Keeping Data Science Broad”

A new report on the “Keeping Data Science Broad: Negotiating the Digital and Data Divide Among Higher Education Institutions” initiative was released by the South Big Data Hub and collaborators, including the Midwest Hub. This initiative brought together the BD Hubs community and other stakeholders to explore pathways for keeping data science education broadly inclusive. Read More

An Introduction to Dr. William Gropp, MBDH PI

Dear MBDH Community,

I wanted to officially introduce myself as the new PI of the Midwest Big Data Hub. In a previous MBDH newsletter, it was announced that I would be taking over the role after the former PI, Dr. Ed Seidel, accepted the job of Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation for the University of Illinois System. It is with great enthusiasm that I join the MBDH community, and I’m eager to contribute to all the ways the Hub is expanding and enhancing the Midwest Big Data ecosystem.

Read More