dsarScience in the Seams

High-performance computing at Emory

Vol. 10 No. 1
September 2007

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Science in the Seams
Computational and Life Sciences Initiative redefines disciplinary lines

High-performance computing at Emory

“Everybody understands or recognizes the combination of computational and life sciences as very promising. . . . Few people have been working in this combination of fields long enough to have established a leadership presence.”

“Rather than 'deconstructing' nature into its simplest parts . . . , the twenty-first century will likely be spent trying to understand, scientifically, the nature of complex interacting systems by “reconstructing” complexity.”

Staging Science
Teaching, and learning from, the interdisciplinary class

Thinking Outside the Pipeline
The impact of the unexpected in work-life issues

Creative Minds and "The Greatness Game"
A Response


Emory supports three high-performance computing centers: the Biomolecular Computing Resource, the Emerson Center, and the Emory High Performance Compute Cluster. To assess research computing needs, importance, and usage, the Office of Institutional Research conducted a survey Emory faculty on several issues.
Among the findings (based on 414 responses):

• 79 percent said research computing is very important in their area of research; 17 percent said it was somewhat important.

• 18 percent said that they used high-performance computing,
and 63 percent said they are interested in using it.

• 37 percent said the role and quality of research computing at Emory is inferior to other leading research universities,
26 percent said it is about the same, and about 7 percent said
it was superior.

• 94 percent agreed that research computing at Emory will
become increasingly important over the next five years.

• 88 percent said Emory should consider it an area of substantial investment.

• 17 percent said research computing was important in their decision to come to Emory.

Faculty members also indicated the need to more clearly define the term “research computing.” The following is a typical comment: “It’s not clear what you mean by ‘research computing’ . . . these things need explanation if you want clear feedback.” Faculty whose focus is medical and scientific research and those in computational and statistical fields all noted that research computing is essential to their work. For example, a medical faculty stated that “high-level computing” is essential for understanding diseases at the molecular level and for drug design. A few faculty members in the humanities also pointed to a need for research computing. One respondent said that for Emory to be considered among the “elite group of universities nationally and worldwide” means “our departments need to have research computing in place to personalize, optimize and advance our practices to cutting-edge.”