Grant: $161,912 - National Science Foundation - Sep. 9, 2009
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Award Description: MRI: Acquisition of a Computing Cluster for Astrophysics and Nuclear Physics Research at the University of Richmond. This NSF award is for the purchase of a high-performance computing cluster to support co-operating research programs in astrophysics and nuclear physics at the University of Richmond, making faculty more productive and helping train students in modern data mining techniques, simulation, and high-performance computing. The NSF-funded astrophysics research, which is led by Associate Professor Emory Bunn, focuses on simulations of QUBIC, a new cosmic microwave background polarimeter being built by researchers at Brown University ,the University of Wisconsin, the University of Richmond, and a European group centered at the Université de Paris. This instrument is a technology pathfinder for a planned future satellite-borne telescope, with the ultimate goal of detecting the signature of gravitational waves produced by inflation in the very early Universe. The nuclear physics research, led by Professor Gerard Gilfoyle, centers on unraveling the structure of the nucleon and the nature of quark confinement. This DOE-supported project involves extracting the distribution of charge and current in the neutron, and measuring the properties of the nuclear force via the breakup of the simplest nucleus, the deuteron. Additional users will include senior personnel in nuclear physics at Ohio University, Virginia Tech, and Union College, who with Gilfoyle are responsible for the operation of a large particle detector at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab). Computing limitations threaten to limit the productivity of these projects. Simulations of the QUBIC polarimeters, which are necessary for the design and optimization of the instruments, require a cluster of this size if they are to be completed in a reasonable time. Analyzing the nuclear data sets collected at JLab means working with event files that occupy hundreds of gigabytes and conducting simulations that can take weeks to run on existing equipment. The proposed equipment will enhance the engagement of undergraduates in these cutting-edge projects, by reducing the extended processing times that are a barrier to learning and meaningful undergraduate student research involvement. It will also give students experience with the design and execution of large-scale projects. Both principal investigators have funding to support undergraduate researchers during the summer; in the past four years seven physics students have presented 14 talks at national meetings including the American Physical Society and the American Astronomical Society. These are especially important opportunities for the underrepresented students our summer research program attracts, like the four women and three African American students who were part of the nuclear physics and astrophysics labs over the past three summers. Adding the computer cluster to the University's research infrastructure will help sustain the faculty collaborations with investigators at research institutions, where the commitments of senior personnel to the project will also make the equipment available to undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers there.
Project Description: Because the award was received quite recently, the only activity that has taken place so far is that we have begun the process of soliciting bids for the purchase of the cluster. We expect to make the purchase by December, and scientific work will begin as soon as possible thereafter. See Award Description for project description.
Jobs Summary: N/A this quarter. Number of jobs and description will be included when equipment is purchased. (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Sep. 9, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.