Margolis, Dr. Ford Awarded NSF Grant for New Campus Science & Education Network

By Caitlin Burns | September 6, 2018

Interim Chief Information Officer Leslie Margolis and Dr. Vitaly Ford, assistant professor of Computer Science and Mathematics, were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to provide new, high-speed networking resources on campus for technology-driven science and education applications and research.

The grant, which totals $352,500, brings together both academic and administrative teams on campus for a successful grant proposal in the cybersecurity space. The grant will significantly upgrade network capacity to advance four key objectives:

  • Provide high performance, secure network capabilities for large dataset sharing and cloud-based education;
  • Eliminate technical barriers for faculty through dedicated, friction-free paths to high performance computing and data resources;
  • Leverage Internet2 authentication and authorization mechanisms to support engagement with other institutions and research networks;
  • Enable future scientific possibilities and unleash innovation for student and faculty researchers.

“The administrative network will benefit as well,” said Dr. Ford. “The new system will provide more capacity for the Arcadia network by offloading the science and data research from the network. In addition, there will be an overall upgrade to the whole network.”  

This grant was a collaborative effort with the Office of Sponsored Research, led by Nataliia Shablia, director of Sponsored Research, as well as several faculty members from different departments, who worked with Margolis and Dr. Ford to gather campus data for the grant submission. Academics Grant Manager Charu Varma said faculty are finding it takes several days to upload or download big data projects, and with the new network that same data will only take minutes, which is why it was such an important application for the University.

The Keystone Initiative for Network-Based Education and Research (KINBER), which provides the network for Pennsylvania educational institutions, will be actively working with Arcadia as the Leadership Institution. Margolis and Dr. Ford said the next steps will be to work with KINBER and visit other institutions during the fall semester who have already instituted a “frictionless environment” infrastructure.

“I think it’s a brand new opportunity for Arcadia,” said Margolis. “Our faculty are engaged in some phenomenal research and we now have the opportunity to build an improved science and education infrastructure to support it. We will also be able to better prepare our students to compete in a technology-driven world.”

Margolis and Dr. Ford will be the leadership team on the project, and work with the Science Advisory Committee– Dr. Rebecca Kohn, dean of the College of Arts and  Sciences; Dr. Rebecca Craik, dean of the College of Health Sciences; and Dr. Sandra Crenshaw, associate provost– to host meetings that are open to all Arcadia community members. The resulting engagement will bring new opportunities for faculty and student research starting in 2019-20 academic year.

Already, some faculty have agreed to work as collaborators on this project, including Dr. Emanuele Curotto, professor and chair of Chemistry and Physics; Dr. Tatjana Miletic, associate professor of Chemistry and Physics; Dr. Carlos Ortiz, professor and chair of Computer Science and Mathematics; Dr. Kathy Macropol, adjunct professor of Computer Science and Mathematics; Dr. Naomi Phillips, associate professor and chair of Biology; and Dr. Sheryl Smith, associate professor of Biology. Staff collaborators from Information Technology and Academic Technology Services will support technical aspects of the implementation.