Research News

New working group to assess and prioritize opportunities for enhancing research IT resources on campus

Provost Susan R. Wente (Vanderbilt)

A new working group has been charged with laying the groundwork for enhancing research information technology (IT) services for schools and colleges reporting to Provost Susan R. Wente. The Research IT Special Project Working Group will operate under the auspices of the Provost’s Initiative to Enhance Research and Scholarship, or PIERS, and will pursue key recommendations put forth last year by the Faculty Advisory Committee on Research IT.

“As research practices evolve so must the tools our scholars use to store, process, analyze and share the information with which they work,” Wente said. “The findings of this group will inform the development of a sustainable, long-term plan to provide the most robust and professionally managed research IT resources and services that faculty depend on to be globally competitive.”

Vice Provost for Research Padma Raghavan (Vanderbilt)

“Research and scholarship are increasingly dependent on digital technologies,” said Vice Provost for Research Padma Raghavan, citing efforts ranging from the digital preservation of ancient texts and understanding the role of digital technologies in teaching and learning to modeling smart-city operations and designing next-generation vaccines by integrating big data with structural biology. “The Research IT Special Project Working Group, in a collaborative approach with participation from VUIT, will undertake a two-fold effort to conduct an inventory of research IT assets, and to identify opportunities for enhancements to advance research and scholarship,” she said.

The working group comprises both faculty from a broad variety of disciplines and VUIT representatives. This will empower the working group with the diversity of expertise and experience required to comprehend the full scope of research needs as well as the technological underpinnings of both the problems and solutions.

Vice Chancellor for Information Technology John Lutz (Vanderbilt)

“This partnership with Provost Wente, Vice Provost Raghavan and the faculty is key to informing the future mix of products and services which VUIT will provide to the research community,” said Vice Chancellor for Information Technology John Lutz. “The more nimbly our organization can mold itself to meet the specific requirements of researchers, the greater our contribution will be to the research mission of the university.”

The working group will also interface with VUMC-employed VU faculty and IT staff to identify areas of similar effort and potential partnerships.

The working group will inventory three broad categories of IT resources:

  • Basic Research IT: These resources relate to the hardware/physical infrastructure, including services that are needed broadly and can be provided using commodity hardware and software (e.g. long-term archival storage of scholarly and scientific data)
  • “Middle-ware” Research IT: Typically, this includes software/services that are commonly used by researchers and that form the “middle layer” upon which more specialized workflows can be deployed
  • Advanced Research IT Core Facilities: This category includes highly customized applications and services for broadly shared research approaches (digital learning, demographics and population research, –omics, neuroimaging, and so forth) that require specialized computing needs.

Additionally, the group will be reaching out to the Vanderbilt research community to identify resources and assess:

How researcher needs could be met through enhanced access to existing resources;
How broadly those enhancements could impact scholars in the schools/colleges; and
How important certain resources are to advancing the work of communities of researchers and scholars.

The working group members include:

  • Cliff Anderson, associate university librarian for research and learning and director of scholarly communications;
  • Corey Brady, assistant professor of teaching and learning, Peabody College;
  • Madeline Casad, senior lecturer, cinema and media arts, College of Arts and Science;
  • Walter Chazin, Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine;
  • Laurie Cutting, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Special Education, Peabody College;
  • Will French, manager of research computing operations, ACCRE;
  • Noam Lupu, associate professor of political science, College of Arts and Science;
  • John McCammon, lead relationship manager, VUIT;
  • Jens Meiler, professor of chemistry, College of Arts and Science;
  • Padma Raghavan, working group chair, vice provost for research, professor of computer science and computer engineering, School of Engineering;
  • Jason Reusch, senior director of academic it service delivery, VUIT;
  • Douglas Schmidt, professor of computer science and computer engineering, School of Engineering.