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Updated 10:00 AM February 13, 2006
 

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SI professor to lead NSF cyberinfrastructure office

School of Information (SI) Professor Daniel Atkins has been appointed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to head the new federal Office of Cyberinfrastructure.

Atkins, who will assume his NSF role June 1 and oversee a $182 million budget, also holds an appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He will keep both appointments while serving the NSF.

The NSF created the office to make competitive, merit-reviewed awards for leading-edge, information technology-based infrastructure that is essential to science and engineering. Cyberinfrastructure includes supercomputers, data management systems, high-capacity networks, digitally-enabled observatories and scientific instruments, and an interoperable suite of software and middleware services and tools for computation, visualization and collaboration.

"I cannot imagine a more ideal choice for this critical position at this critical time," says Arden Bement, Jr., NSF director. "Not only does Dan have unparalleled leadership experience and a strong vision, but he is already very familiar with the foundation, its programs and its policies."

In 2003, Atkins chaired a blue-ribbon panel of scientists that produced a report on the cyberinfrastructure needs of the United States. That report, commonly referred to as the "Atkins Report," called for the NSF to oversee a major program in cyberinfrastructure-enhanced science and engineering research and allied education for the nation.

Atkins, who served as founding dean of SI from 1992-98, has made significant contributions to high-performance computer architecture. He developed the NSF-sponsored Digital Library Initiative and later became project director of the U-M Digital Library. Atkins also helped pilot the Mellon Foundation-sponsored JSTOR (journal storage) Project for digitizing academic journals.

"I am very honored and excited to be serving as the first director of the new NSF Office of Cyberinfrastructure," Atkins says. "In many ways this opportunity integrates all of the diverse opportunities my colleagues have given me during my 34 years at the University of Michigan. It offers me another important platform for contributing to my overarching professional aspiration—leadership in the creation and use of information and computer technology in service of human learning, creativity and well-being."

SI Dean John King said Atkins, who has served as associate dean for research and interim dean at the College of Engineering, will help the country achieve its stated national goals.

"President Bush pointed out in his recent State of the Union address that U.S. competitiveness depends on increased scientific research in cyberinfrastructure," King says. "Dan is the ideal person to lead this initiative. He literally wrote the book on the subject."

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