IT News & Events

News about IT at Indiana University and the world


IU to lead $5M science gateway project

The Science Gateway Platform (SciGaP) transforms web-based tools researchers rely on for discovery.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a $5 million, five-year collaborative grant to Indiana University, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) to develop the Science Gateway Platform (SciGaP). The platform, which will provide researchers with a variety of hosted services that support science gateways, will further scientific discovery and transform science gateway construction.

Marlon Pierce of IU’s University Information Technology Service’s Science Gateways Group is the principal investigator (PI), along with Suresh Marru as the IU co-PI. Mark Miller and Amit Majumdar from the SDSC and Borries Demeler from the UTHSCSA will hold similar roles at their institutions. As lead institution on the grant, IU will receive approximately $2.5 million over the five-year period.

Science gateways are web-based tools that make it easier for researchers to combine resources for collaborative research and access top-tier supercomputers, telescopes, electron microscopes and curated data collections. As such, these gateways are at the heart of cutting-edge research in areas such as physics, medicine and earthquake science.

Hear Craig Stewart, IU associate dean for research technologies, speak about the new grant.

"IU is among the most well-known and well-regarded leaders in the development of science gateways that are a critical part of research cyberinfrastructure," said Craig A. Stewart, IU associate dean for research technologies and executive director of the Pervasive Technology Institute. "NSF funding will enable us to further the development of science gateways that are critical to US research. But, in the long run, the federal government can't pay for everything. Sustainability of software development and support is an area where IU has led for years. One of the critical aspects of this project is that this science gateway effort will be self-sustaining at the end of NSF funding."

SciGaP services will help train a new generation of developers in open source environments. It will also provide them with the generic middleware functionalities that are common to all science gateways, so that they can then create custom interfaces and features for an individual gateway’s scientific community. "This grant will help us realize our vision of science gateways as a multifaceted hosted service," Marru explained.

"This is really about better integrating gateway software development with gateway services," said Pierce. "We are not just putting software on a website for people to download and then hoping for the best. Our team integrates gateway developers and operators with shared responsibilities."

The SciGaP project is a natural extension of Pierce and Marru’s successes with their previous major NSF grants for Open Gateway Computing Environments and their ongoing contributions to Apache Airavata and the XSEDE Science Gateway Program.

IU will use grant funding for salaries and graduate assistantships to develop and deploy the core components. Remaining grant funds will be divided among the partner institutions to integrate existing gateways—the Cyberinfrastructure for Phylogenetic Research (CIPRES) and Neuroscience gateways at SDSC and the UltraScan gateway at UTHSCSA—with SciGaP.