Letter from Matt Link, AVP, Research Technologies

This past year was challenging, scary, unpredictable, heartbreaking, and hard on us all. Many of us lost family, friends, and colleagues–for many reasons–and overcame those obstacles with compassion and grace. I want to acknowledge everyone in RT and thank them for always being there to support our mission to serve Indiana University, each other, and our colleagues. I couldn’t be prouder to share some of what we achieved during a truly challenging year.

Despite the physical constraints caused by the pandemic, RT continued to support research and scholarly activities with specializations in high performance computing (HPC), consulting, storage, research software, data visualization, and training, allowing RT to foster collaborations across disciplines and campuses.

Despite the practical challenges we faced both individually and collectively, there were many bright spots. The Crisis Technologies Innovation Lab, for which RT is a collaborator and I am a co-director, was awarded more than $10M to research best practices for first responders and disaster response that will improve disaster patient care, recovery, and policy implementation. RT was also awarded nearly $700,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund the Jetstream cloud computing system’s sixth project year. This brings the total of NSF funding for Jetstream to nearly $14.5M. These funds will allow for a seamless transition from Jetstream to Jetstream2, funded by the NSF at $10M, creating continuity. The Jetstream systems provide U.S. researchers with anytime, anywhere access to cloud-based computing and data analysis resources.

Through Jetstream, we assisted with the COVID-19 response by participating in the COVID-19 HPC Consortium; sixteen projects used these resources for related research. This included early usage through the Galaxy Gateway for SARS-CoV-2 analysis and provision of resources to the OpenMRS team, which has affected medical records systems and data sharing worldwide.

Earlier in the year, with COVID-19 infections still on the rise, RT provided services and resources to help understand and contain the pandemic. The COVID-19 Research Data Commons, or CoRDaCo, is the result of a partnership between the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University. CoRDaCo uses MDClone software to scrub sensitive patient information from datasets and provide abstracted, synthetic data from COVID-19 mitigation testing, as well as government vital records, to create complete datasets for public health research.

RT’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic took other avenues as well. The Advanced Visualization Lab collaborated with units throughout IU to implement a range of technologies to increase engagement and well-being within the IU community, especially during COVID-necessitated restrictions.

Examples include virtual and technology-enhanced components for the Little 500 bike race, graduation ceremonies, Bachelor and Masters of Fine Arts gallery exhibits, and end-of-semester project demonstrations. Similarly, through the IU3D initiative, RT has now digitized more than 100 spaces—including historic buildings, rotating gallery exhibits, research facilities, and schools of study—at five different IU campuses and multiple external sites across Indiana.

These digital spaces, while particularly useful in the last year, will continue to be used for student recruitment, virtual exhibits, construction project management, fundraising, fostering cultural understanding, and connecting with alumni.
RT has been able to stay ahead of the curve in various areas we support. As COVID-19 shut down in-person training and outreach activities, RT was able to successfully offer training on demand and virtually through platforms like Zoom, Canvas, and Expand. The National Center for Genome Analysis Support team was particularly adept at reaching out to their community and continuing to provide exceptional education and training.

Our high performance compute systems, file systems, and visualization systems have recently undergone upgrades, allowing us to provide the best possible systems for COVID-19 research as well as all the research and educational activities IU aspires to accomplish.

In Research Technologies, we remain focused on supporting and enabling all areas of research and scholarly activities as we collectively work to be together again. Last year I ended my letter with the statement:

“I look forward to the day that we can all be together again!”

I am grateful for all the hard work by IU’s Medical Response Team and our leaders in making the hard choices to bring us all back together–safely. I couldn’t be prouder of Research Technologies and very much look forward to the coming year!

Matt Link
Associate Vice President
Research Technologies,
Pervasive Technology Institute
University Information Technology Services

Extended versions of these exceptional highlights can be found here: go.iu.edu/3X0g


IU Research Technologies: Impacts Annual Report FY2021 Copyright © by Indiana University Research Technologies. All Rights Reserved.