May 21, 2019  |  Jola Glotzer

CBC attends UChicago’s IT Matters: Driving Research and Discovery

A conversation on research and high performance computing with Rob Gardner and Bob Grossman, a CBC past awardee

Rob Gardner (left), Bob Grossman (center) and Kevin Boyd at the IT Matters.

IT Matters is a speaker series hosted by Kevin Boyd, associate vice president and CIO of UChicago Informatics Technology (IT). Kevin welcomes guests to discuss the key role information technology plays in enabling and advancing the efforts of faculty, students, staff, and community partners. At the recent IT Matters: Driving Research and Discovery, which took place on Thursday, May 16, 2019, at UChicago’s Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Kevin welcomed and introduced his guests: Rob Gardner and Robert Grossman. Both scientists reflected on the paths that brought them to UChicago and gave a few examples of their work.

Gardner, who is physicist, told a fascinating story of reproducing “universe creation,” requiring microscopes that are 5 stories tall. He also talked about collaborations with other centers, e.g. on the South Pole, to be able to detect an event in the universe, and about how to detect neutrinos. Grossman, who is a bioscientist, spoke of machine learning, big data sets and building statistical models in order to improve healthcare outcomes. Gardner and Grossman frequently brought up Argonne National Laboratory as a unique resource available to UChicago researchers, and in that context, Aurora–the US’ first exascale computer to be hosted at Argonne starting in 2021.

Overall, the engaging conversation on research and high performance computing allowed guests to share in the experiences of these renowned scientists, as well as share their own perspectives on the important role institutions like UChicago play in supporting and driving research and discovery.

Rob Gardner (left) and Bob Grossman, getting ready for the IT Matters.

Video courtesy of UChicago IT


Rob Gardner

Rob Gardner is a Research Professor in the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago working on computing and analytics for big science. He is Principal Investigator of the NSF-funded SLATE project which federates Kubernetes edge clusters in the national cyberinfrastructure. He co-leads the US ATLAS Computing Facility, a collaboration of 10 universities and two U.S. Department of Energy laboratories providing computational and data services to the ATLAS collaboration at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland. He leads the Scalable Systems Laboratory of the newly created NSF Institute for Research and Innovation in Software for High Energy Physics (IRIS-HEP) with focus on novel data organizational methods, data delivery services and analysis platforms for the high luminosity upgrade of the LHC in 2026. His lab also builds advanced cyberinfrastructure supporting forefront scientific collaborations including the XENON, South Pole Telescope, VERITAS, LIGO and IceCube experiments.

Robert Grossman

Robert Grossman is a faculty member in the section of Genetic Medicine, as well as the chief research informatics officer for the Division of the Biological Sciences. He is also a senior fellow in the Computation Institute and the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology. His research group focuses on bioinformatics, data mining, cloud computing, data intensive computing, and related areas. He is also the founder of Open Data Group, which has provided strategic consulting and outsourced services in analytics since 2002, specializing in building predictive models over big data. His current research is focused on bioinformatics, especially developing systems, applications, and algorithms so that large data sets of genomics data can be integrated with phenotype information extracted from electronic medical records and analyzed to deepen our understanding of diseases.