Federal Grant Completes Funding for New Supercomputer

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota has been awarded a $504,911 major research instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation that, along with an earlier $200,000 grant through the South Dakota Board of Regents, will cover the cost of replacing the current supercomputer on campus.

The National Science Foundation has recently identified supercomputing systems as necessary research instruments, alongside equipment like DNA sequencers and electron microscopes. USD's current supercomputer was acquired in 2006 through an award from the National Institutes of Health and has supported more than 100 students and faculty, contributing to scientific publications and courses. The new supercomputer will be named after Nobel Laureate and USD alumnus E.O. Lawrence.

“Supercomputers allow scientists to do simulations of events that are expensive or infeasible to produce in the laboratory,” said Doug Jennewein, director of research computing for USD. “They also allow scientists to run computations that are too complicated or time consuming to run on a laptop or laboratory PC.”

He and Cheryl Tiahrt, USD deputy chief information officer and director of information technology services, designed the Lawrence Supercomputer after consulting with USD scientists and computer architects from industry. The new system will provide thousands of processing units, specially optimized software and more than 1,000 times the memory of a traditional laptop.

“The new supercomputer will improve USD’s research environment and competitiveness,” said Jennewein. “This means improved chances for research grants which can translate into more student research assistants.”

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Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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