NSF Hands Out $156 Million to Spur IT Innovation

The National Science Foundation has awarded $156 million in research grants to help fund 309 different projects under a program designed to spur innovative uses of information technology, the foundation announced Sept. 25.

Among the awards, the University of Florida received $13.6 million to build a computational grid network for researchers. The university will lead a consortium of 15 universities and four laboratories in building the International Virtual Data Grid Laboratory, or iVDGL.

The grid will connect 40 locations in the United States, Europe and Asia, allowing scientists to view and analyze data from experiments in high-energy and nuclear physics, gravitational waves, astronomy, biology and other areas.

The University of Florida work is one of eight large projects that total between $5.5 million and $13.75 million, each awarded by the foundation as part of its IT research priority area.

Some others go to:

*Carnegie Mellon University, to develop methods that speed algorithm research to the marketplace. Estimated $5.6 million.

*The Shoah Visual History Foundation, Los Angeles, to develop multilingual speech-recognition software to catalogue video interviews of World War II holocaust survivors. $7.5 million.

*University of California-Berkeley, to develop "societal scale" information systems aimed at solving complex problems related to energy, disaster response and education. $7.1 million.

*The University of Kansas, to deploy radar sensors at polar regions to collect and analyze real-time data about interactions between ice sheets, oceans and the atmosphere, to help determine why sea levels have been rising for the past century. $5.5 million.

Another 113 midsized projects that total $1 million to $5 million each have been awarded by the foundation as well, along with 188 smaller projects receiving up to $500,000 each. All are awarded to academic and other nonprofit research institutions.

University of Florida's iVDGL is expected to go online by early next year. According to the project's principal investigator Paul Avery, each participating university or research center will install onsite about 100 Intel Pentium-based computers that use the Linux operating system.

For a searchable database of all the National Science Foundation's 2001 information technology awards, see www.itr.nsf.gov.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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