IRMACS - CREATIVE COLLABORATION
Scientific research is rapidly becoming a global endeavour. Today's complex computational problems not only require a wide range of technologies to solve them, but they also require a wide range of expertise. As scientific research becomes more multidisciplinary in nature, today's research collaborations often span campuses, cities, and even countries. Thus, one of the key components of any advanced computational research environment is the ability for researchers to communicate and collaborate with colleagues at all levels.
A principle mission of the IRMACS Centre is to promote collaboration and partnerships. This is achieved by providing:
- the physical location that encourages and stimulates interdisciplinary research and crosses traditional barriers by catalyzing interdisciplinary interaction
- the technical infrastructure and support staff to facilitate collaboration at all levels
- the technical infrastructure and support staff to facilitate the storage, analysis, and visualization of complex scientific datasets
- the meeting and presentation facilities encourage in person and remote collaborations
- a collaborative, interdisciplinary research model that facilitates and drives modern research
- a research environment that fosters the creation of interdisciplinary research clusters
- the distributed interdisciplinary research network that enables this research
The provison of these factors has resulted in the IRMACS Centre being one of the most technologically sophisticated and enabling collaborative environments for the support of interdisciplinary research in Canada.
To meet the needs of collaborative scientific computing, the IRMACS Centre has deployed a set of collaboration technologies. In addition, the IRMACS Centre is working closely with the WestGrid Collaboration and Visualization group to explore the area of collaboration technologies in the domain of scientific computing.
Collaboration in Use
The IRMACS Centre's flexible approach to collaboration allows its diverse project groups and visitors to utilize the infrastructure in a multitude of ways.
Lab Space: The physical lab space is assigned to projects, with multiple projects being assigned to a single lab. Projects are grouped in labs based on an analysis of common research interests - not discipline. For example, rather than group all of the biology researchers together in a single lab, IRMACS assigns the six research projects in the Bioinformatics cluster to a single lab area which results in a lab of researchers spanning Biological Science, Genetics, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Computing Science, Mathematics, and Statistics. By grouping researchers in this manner, IRMACS effectively breaks down traditional departmental and institutional barriers and encourages interdisciplinary interaction among researchers.
Events: Amongst the myriad of events held at IRMACS, the Centre is heavily involved in WestGrid, Compute Canada, PIMS, and MITACS as a collaborating partner. IRMACS jointly hosts a range of local and distributed seminars with these organizations, including hosting the SFU component of the WestGrid HPC training seminars (a remote seminar across seven universities in Western Canada) and hosting MITACS and PIMS Distinguished lectures. IRMACS, in collaboration with DDrive at Dalhousie University in Halifax, is the originating institution of the Coast to Coast seminar series, a bi-weekly seminar series that is distributed to upwards of 80 researchers at 10 institutions across Canada. The SAGE Days workshop in particular utilized the IRMACS technological infrastructure extensively. It made both extensive use of the IRMACS visualization infrastructure (stereoscopic displays and software), collaboration infrastructure (several talks were given from San Diego), and the computational labs (hands on computational sessions were held all week).
Research Clusters: IRMACS has a critical and lasting influence on the development of a number of local, regional, national and international research clusters. For example, the formation of the MoCSSy research and training program is a direct outcome of the IRMACS interdisciplinary research environment.
WestGrid: IRMACS is a close partner with WestGrid, the HPC consortium in Western Canada. IRMACS houses several WestGrid resources within the Centre, including the WestGrid visualization server in the IRMACS server room and several WestGrid visualization displays in the IRMACS visualization lab. IRMACS also partnered with WestGrid to upgrade the WestGrid visualization machine as part of its first round of purchases. IRMACS has a dedicated gigabit connection to the WestGrid core network, providing our researchers with extremely high bandwidth connectivity to the extensive WestGrid computational facilities. IRMACS also hosts the biweekly WestGrid HPC training seminar series in the IRMACS advanced collaboration rooms.
For more information on "Creative Collaboration" at IRMACS, contact the IRMACS Centre.