$10 million private donation to be used in expanding supercomputer center


Raveena Bhalara

The supercomputer in the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) will receive a $10 million donation to advance the science it does. Astronomy professor Karl Gebhardt is one member of a team using the computer, and he says his research will benefit from the advancements by processing a more enormous amount of data.

Sylvia Butanda

The Texas Advanced Computing Center will receive a $10 million private donation to advance the supercomputer center’s data-driven science.

The Peter O’Donnell Foundation has donated in past years to support the University’s research efforts at the computing center, which will use part of the money to construct a computing system to handle and analyze large amounts of data. Alison Preston, an assistant psychology and neurobiology professor, said the donation will help the Preston Lab, where studies are being conducted to show how the brain implements human memory.

“When we test individuals in the CAT scanner, we take thousands of pictures of their brain across the one to one-and-half hour that they are in there,” Preston said. “You need a lot of space to store large quantities of data and that is one thing new resources offered by the funding will provide.”

Preston said the donation provided to the computing center and its advanced data system will help analyze data more quickly.

“Using a personal computer could take several days to fully analyze an individual subject,” Preston said. “It will allow us to speed up the analysis of data, and we can therefore answer the scientific questions that we’re interested in.”

Astronomy professor Karl Gebhardt said he and his team will use the computing center as a data storage and analysis base for their observation of the expansion of the universe.

Gebhardt and his team will trace the detailed expansion of the universe through the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment, he said.

“Our project will have an enormous amount of data, about three to five years total, and we simply do not have the funds within our project and department to handle such an amount,” Gebhardt said.

Printed on Thursday, February 23, 2012 as: Computing center receives $10 million