CLEMSON, South Carolina — Clemson University has launched a collaborative cyberinfrastructure project working with four historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) to enhance their research capacity and to transform the way research is done on those campuses.

The National Science Foundation has awarded Clemson a $250,000 grant for the project, titled “CC* Cyber Team: Cyberinfrastructure Empowerment for Diverse Research, Scholarship, and Workforce Development (CI Empower).” It is a regional, long-term empowerment model through a collaboration among Morgan State University in Maryland, Jackson State University in Mississippi, Claflin University and South Carolina State University in South Carolina and Clemson University.

Jim Bottum, research professor and director of the Center of Excellence in Next Generation Computing and Creativity at Clemson and Internet2 Fellow, serves as CI Empower’s principal investigator.

“We are very excited to be working with our partners on this project as in this era of dependence on data for virtually every area of research and scholarship, no single institution can support the diverse needs of their communities alone and it is imperative that we build strong, interdependent partnerships where we can effectively leverage one another’s strengths,” Bottum said. “I also want to thank project co-PI Dr. Jill Gemmill of Clemson for her leadership in pulling this outstanding team together.”

CI Empower will work to develop a campus cyberinfrastructure strategic plan and expertise for each campus tailored to HBCU campus environments. On-campus research cyberinfrastructure experts will engage local researchers and understand their needs, locating resources and offering expert help while coordinating with partner campuses to share experiences and expertise.

The HBCU team members will leverage Clemson University’s past success in obtaining CC* and other campus cyberinfrastructure awards, Clemson’s leadership in other National Science Foundation programs and partnerships built through South Carolina EPSCoR Cyberinfrastructure awards. Clemson benefits from this partnership by strengthening its research partnerships with HBCUs, contributing to Clemson’s commitment to building a diverse and inclusive environment.

Richard Alo, dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at Jackson State University and a co-principal investigator of the project, said, “Jackson State University’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology is pleased to be a part of this grant that adds significant opportunities for our institutions to assess and enhance our cyberinfrastructure and to be part of a more even playing field with our much larger sister institutions. So much of what are doing now and in the future in research and education depends on and will depend on having access, engagement and faculty and student training. We are grateful to NSF for this award and to Clemson University for leading the way.”

“This award will allow South Carolina State University to perform much-needed cyberinfrastructure assessment, which will allow the university to design the next-generation cyberinfrastructure architecture that will support research areas, such as nuclear engineering and cybersecurity,” said Damian Clarke, the chief information officer at South Carolina State. “The far-reaching impact of this project will be of tremendous value to the state of South Carolina and the nation.”

Joey Brenn, chief information officer at Claflin University and a co-principal investigator of CI Empower, said, “The NSF award is directly aligned with our strategic goal of furthering academic and research excellence through collaboration and strengthening infrastructure. This will allow Claflin to develop a cyberinfrastructure plan that ensures a structured framework to support the computational research needs of our faculty.”

Victor McCrary, vice president of Research and Economic Development at Morgan State University, said “Morgan State University deeply appreciates the opportunity to be member of the CC* Cyber Team and we thank the National Science Foundation for making this award.”

“This award allows Morgan to provide the necessary resources to our cyberinfrastructure to elevate our status as a doctoral research institution, and to continue to advance the frontiers of science and engineering here at Morgan,” McCrary said.

Additional partners in the project include Miron Livny, professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin, director of the Center for High Throughput Computing and technical director of the Open Science Grid; and Linda Akli, director of Outreach and Training, Southeastern Universities Research Association.

The project began Feb. 1.

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This material is based upon work supported by the NSF under Grant No. #1620695. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.