IT, researchers secure grant to boost computing, innovation

By Casey Hanson, Information Services

PULLMAN, Wash. – An innovative partnership between researchers and information technologists has secured a $498,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for Washington State University to increase computing capabilities in research-intensive buildings. This will enhance scientific and data-intensive research, innovation, discovery and education. 

The grant from the Campus Cyberinfrastructure – Infrastructure, Innovation and Engineering Program (CC*IIE) will support creation of WSU’s High Speed Scalable Research Core (HSSRC), providing increased network speed (to at least 10Gb/s), decreased latency, efficient and scalable hardware, and software-defined network capability to better adapt to changing requirements.

Currently “research traffic” has to compete with other services, such as Web browsing and email, as well as integrate with security systems needed to keep the institution and its various entities cyber-secure. These all hamper research traffic.

The HSSRC infrastructure enhancement will expand the available bandwidth to researchers, allowing them to transmit large sets of data between research collaborators on- and off-campus. Once the HSSRC is operational, researchers will have a dedicated network pipe to send and receive their data without competing with other network traffic hogs like YouTube, Facebook and streaming movies.

The HSSRC equipment will be located in the Pullman data center and in a secondary location to provide network redundancy.

The award underscores the importance of establishing strategic partnerships between the research community and WSU Information Services (IS) units, said Christian Mailhiot, principal investigator for the grant and professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Institute for Shock Physics.

“Implementation of the proposed upgrade allows for additional buildings to be added as finances permit and for newer buildings to have this enhanced capability from the day they come on line,” said co-PI Tori Byington, faculty liaison for IS and an author of the grant proposal. “The scalability of this model allows us to move from the proposed 10Gb/s to a future 100Gb/s network with little effort and to maintain and enhance our HSSRC as the overall network evolves.”

“The grant supports WSU’s strategy to build its capacity to lead in computational and data science and to better respond to the emerging, diverse and rapidly evolving needs of the university’s research community across several disciplines,” said Tony Opheim, deputy CIO and associate vice president of IS.

The five research areas working with IS and highlighted in the proposal include condensed matter science; nuclear theory; genomics, genetics and bioinformatics; atmospheric and environmental science; and energy grid computing.

An important factor in successfully securing this grant is IS’s commitment to the partnership, as well as involvement by key IS personnel in the configuration, design and optimization of the HSSRC in response to the needs of the WSU research user community across a broad spectrum of application domains.

Additional information on the HSSRC as well as other strategic academic and research computing initiatives can be found at

In addition to Mailhiot, Byington and Opheim, the WSU proposal team for the CC*IIE grant includes Wallace Chase, Information Services; Joanna Kelley, College of Arts and Sciences; Brian Lamb, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture; Chen-Ching Liu, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture; Doreen Main, College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences; Michael Forbes, College of Arts and Sciences; Ananth Kalyanaraman, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture; and Viji Murali, Information Services.


Christian Mailhiot, WSU College of Arts and Sciences,, 509-335-7032
Tori Byington, WSU Information Services,, 509-335-3701
Casey Hanson, WSU Information Services communications,, 509-335-8444