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CIPRES: One facet in bold NSF vision

CIPRES: One facet in bold NSF vision

The CIPRES science gateway: A NSF investment launching thousands of scientific publications with no sign of slowing down.

Infrastructure is one of those boring but essential components of civilization. Your commute, your morning shower, your quick glance online — these and many other steps in the modern world would be grueling, unthinkable endeavors were it not for the groundwork laid years ago by forward thinkers.

Visionaries like the US National Science Foundation (NSF) long ago perceived the value of infrastructure. Their investment enables the basic research that flows out and makes our society better.

One of their most audacious and prescient moves was to invest in the national high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure, as seen in XSEDE (eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment), for instance.

More courageous still was the recognition that scientists with smaller projects could accelerate their work with a small allocation of time on these behemoth compute machines. Supercomputers, the NSF saw, were not only for the massive computing tasks, but could also benefit those in the so-called ‘long tail of science.'

"I can't say enough about how inspired and important that decision was," says Mark Miller, principal investigator on the Cyberinfrastructure for Phylogenetic Research (CIPRES) project. "I know of no other governmental organization in the world that allows their big machines to be used in this way: For small jobs, and for everyone in the world."

CIPRES

CIPRES offers access to HPC resources through a browser interface and a set of enabling public web interfaces. Think of it as a gateway that allows researchers to easily explore evolutionary relationships between species using NSF supercomputers. 

The NSF seeds the discoveries that are a bridge to the future. ~ Mark Miller.

In the six years since it was established, CIPRES has enabled 2,300+ scientific publications, while only occupying about 1% of the NSF supercomputing resources. That's an impressive return on investment.

Since its inception, CIPRES has had broad appeal, as it has served a diverse swath of user groups.

 

In the past year, CIPRES has submitted jobs for nearly 2,000 users from 330 institutions across the US and its territories. Of these institutions, four are historically black colleges, 24 are Hispanic-serving institutions, and two are Alaska and Hawaii native-serving institutions — four are high schools.